WEST ORANGE, NJ — The votes are in and West Orange voters overwhelmingly elected Council President Susan McCartney to serve as the town’s first female mayor. Additionally, as of press time, challengers Asmeret Ghebremicael and Susan Scarpa have won the race for the two open seats on the West Orange Township Council, and incumbent Jennifer Tunnicliffe and challenger Robert Ivker have won the race for the two open seats on the West Orange Board of Education.
County Clerk Christopher Durkin certified the election on Nov. 17; all Essex County results listed came from the clerk’s website on Nov. 17.
In the mayoral election, McCartney took a decisive lead with 4,493 votes, or 31.4 percent. In second place is Councilwoman Cindy Matute-Brown, who received 3,707 votes, or 25.91 percent; with this loss, Matute-Brown has also lost her seat on the council, as she did not run for reelection in favor of running for mayor. Councilman Bill Rutherford, who will remain on the council, received 3,285 votes, or 22.96 percent; and former Councilman Joe Krakoviak received 2,824 votes, or 19.74 percent.
“I am so overwhelmed by the support of so many and the opportunity to lead this great community for the next four years. Every day, I will take the responsibility seriously and strive to do my best for our township. We are one community and I feel blessed to move us forward,” McCartney told the West Orange Chronicle. “To my campaign team, I say thank you! Thank you for running this marathon mayoral campaign with me. I am grateful for every encouraging text, call, donation, the 675 sign locations, the social media posts, the Election Day volunteers and the campaign canvassing team walking with me across our 12 square, mountainous miles — everyone taking steps along the way to get us across the finish line.
“I commend all candidates and their campaign volunteers willing to step up to serve the community,” she continued. “It is my hope we mobilize together in an effort to keep best interests in mind for the township.”
McCartney said she is ready to take office and begin working on the programs and issues that residents talked about while she was campaigning.
“While campaign canvassing across town, I am so pleased to see so many neighborhoods enjoying and employing the tenets of active neighborhood watch groups in a warm and welcoming manner,” McCartney said. “Knowing neighbors are looking out for each other builds trust and strength. I took notes on issues and concerns that residents feel need addressing, and I will follow up with all department heads to address and/or implement training where needed.
“Canvassing literally opened doors to the opportunity to listen to residents and our township employees, and share ideas with our local volunteer commissioners,” she continued. “I was able to inform and invite new residents willing to serve and listen and learn from others on ways to approach upcoming challenges our community may face. Many have already stepped forward willing to volunteer. Over the coming months, we will need to understand and address budget constraints. I will continue to work to strengthen our businesses, enhance public safety, partner with our faith-based community and collaborate with our schools.”
In the council race, Ghebremicael took a big lead, garnering 7,545 votes, or 34.27 percent. Taking the other open seat, Scarpa received 5,572 votes, or 25.31 percent. Not making the cut this election season, challenger Ron Charles received 4,870 votes, or 22.12 percent; and William Michael Barbee received 4,030 votes, or 18.3 percent.
Ghebremicael did not respond to a request for comment by press time, but Scarpa thanked the voters for showing faith in her.
“To all those who worked so hard to support my campaign and vision to make West Orange the best it can be for all residents, I want to thank you; your support means the world to me. To those whose support I have yet to earn, I look forward to the challenge,” Scarpa told the Chronicle. “I am committed to being an independent voice for all residents and I firmly believe that starts with reducing the influence of money in our municipal politics.”
The race for board of education was very tight. Tunnicliffe took an overwhelming lead with 7,284 votes, or 39.75 percent. Ivker took second place with 5,793 votes, or 31.61 percent, followed by Gregory M. Tynes with 5,249 votes, or 28.64 percent.