Democrat Harvey Lester defeated Phil Robbins in the township’s only contested municipal election, winning by with 4,525 votes to Robbins’s 3,385 to take a seat on the Township Committee.
The ballot question about the township’s open space fund also passed, giving the municipality more flexibility in spending the funds collected by the open space property tax.
Lester, a Democrat, won in a township in which Republicans typically prevail. Despite Obama’s victory in New Jersey in the 2008 election, Hopewell Township voters favored McCain.
Lester said he thought township voters looked beyond party politics for the race.
“I think local elections are about values, not about labels or parties,” he said. “I think that the values I represented resonated with the voters. I focused on the three issues of keeping a watchful eye on taxes, protecting our natural resources and increasing government transparency.”
Lester said he had already contacted the township’s chief financial officer for information on the budget so he could fully participate in the budget process.
“In the short term, I’d like to focus on our taxes,” he said. “I’m already aware that there is a tax increase on the horizon from the affordable housing situation of last year,” he said.
Lester was one of the leaders of a campaign called “Citizens for Tax Choice,” which launched a public petition that defeated a sewer expansion referendum.
Lester said he believed his involvement with Citizens for Tax Choice helped him win the election.
Those issues that were highlighted during the ELSA sewer ordinance referendum involved our taxes, our, our natural resources, government transparency and planning, and I think that resonated with the voters,” he said.
In unopposed elections, Republican David Knights and Democrat Debra Horowitz reclaimed their seats on the Hopewell Borough Council. Horowitz got 670 votes and Knights took 503, but there were two empty seats. There were no write-in votes.
In Pennington Borough, Democrats Eileen M. Heinzel and Dina Dunn were likewise re-elected with no opposition, although six people made write-in votes. MaryAnne Heino took over the unexpired term of a Pennington council seat unopposed.
In the race for the 12th Congressional District, which includes Hopewell, Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat, won an easy victory over his Republican challenger Eric Beck and third-party candidates Jack Freudenheim and Kenneth J. Cody. Holt got 76 percent of the vote.
On the County Board of Freeholders, Democrats brushed aside Republican challengers by 2-1 margins, with incumbents Ann Cannon, Pat Colavita Jr. and Sam Frisby defeating David Maher, Richard Urbani and David Walsh.