Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Jeff Martin and Rick Tighe all won, defeating Republican incumbents Dennis Pone and Dina Thornton and former Trenton councilman Gino Melone. The results mean the first Democratic majority on Hamilton council since 2005. No Democrat had won in a Hamilton municipal race in a decade.
Voter turnout was low for this election, with just 84,434 people out of the county’s 233,743 registered voters, or 36 percent, showing up to the polls to cast their ballots on a blustery gray day that turned rainy before sundown and stayed that way.
Below find communitynews.org‘s summary of the way Mercer County voted in 2017. All results are what has been reported by the Mercer County Clerk’s office, and are not considered official.
A majority of Mercer County voters cast their ballots for Democrat Phillip Murphy, who defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno last night. Guadagno only received the majority of votes in some districts of two Mercer towns, Hamilton, and Robbinsville. In the rest of the county, Murphy won every single district.
Democrats swept the 14th Legislative District, with senator Linda Greenstein and assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson all retaining their seats in the state government.
Voters in the 15th Legislative District also voted for the Democratic ticket. Shirley Turner was reelected to state senate and Reed Gusciora and Elizabeth Maher Muoio won seats in the state assembly.
Things stayed the same at the county level. John ‘Jack’ Kemler was retained his seat as Mercer County Sheriff, and Lucylle Walter and John Cimino were reelected as Mercer County Freeholders.
The top vote-getter was Channing Conway, who was elected to his first three year term on the board. His election comes only after a running an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the board just last year.
Conway received 3,584 votes (21.31) percent. Incumbents Carl Benedetti, with 3,571 (21.23 percent) and Karen McKeon, with 3,560 (21.17 percent) won reelection to the board.
Bringing up the rear were Lynn Lowe, who received 3,416 votes (20.31 percent), and Steven Rodriguez, who got 2,654 votes (15.78 percent).
The above results are preliminary numbers provided by the Mercer County Clerk’s office, and do not include write-in ballots
Democrats Anthony Carabelli, Jr., Jeff Martin and Rick Tighe defeated Republican incumbents Dennis Pone and Dina Thornton and former Trenton councilman Gino Melone.
The Democratic win erases the last remnants of the powerful Goodwin-Kenny-Pone council slate that shocked the ruling Democrats in November 2005 and turned the tide in favor of the Republicans in Hamilton ever since. Two years later, in 2007, Republicans took full control of the council, as well as the mayor’s office.
Tom Goodwin left council in 2010 to become a state senator. Dave Kenny chose not to run for re-election this year—instead running the campaign—which left Pone as the last one standing. Thornton, meanwhile, had been sitting on council since earlier this year, after being appointed to fill the vacancy created by Ed Gore’s resignation.
The results in Hamilton do not appear to be part of the wider “Blue Wave” trend seen across the country. Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno won 35 of Hamilton’s 64 districts despite being defeated by Democrat Phil Murphy handily elsewhere. Republican Ileana Schirmer won her hometown in the race against incumbent Linda Greenstein for state senator; Greenstein won the overall election.
Incumbent Susan Lombardo led all vote-getters in the crowded race for Hamilton Board of Education. Of the 13 candidates, three won 3-year terms: Lombardo, 19-year-old Cameron Cardinale, and Albert Gayzik, a former board president who lost his re-election bid in 2015.
Kevin Kuchinski, the Democratic Hopewell Township Committee president, won re-election for a second term, with fellow Democrat Michael Ruger, an unsuccessfully candidate for committee last year, also winning a seat on committee. Long-term committee member and multiple-times mayor Vanessa Sandom (D) did not run for re-election this year. Kuchinski and Ruger defeated Republicans Luis Nicolao and Philip Volpe.
In the Hopewell Valley Regional School District Board of Education race four candidates, including two incumbents, were running for three seats. At the time of publishing this article the winners of the vote were Adam Sawicki (incumbent), Sarah Tracy and Darius Matthews, with sitting vice president Alyce Murray the odd person out. The vote is close, and communitynews.org has a call into the Mercer County Clerk’s office to see if posted results are trustworthy.
There were no races in Pennington and Hopewell Boroughs, with Democrats Catherine “Kit” Chandler and Glen Griffiths winning unopposed for the second time in three years in Pennington, and council president C. Schuyler Morehouse (R) and newcomer Ryan Kennedy (D) both elected to three year terms without opposition. Shelby Tewell (R), who was appointed by council after Roxanne Plett stepped down at the start of the year, ran unopposed and will complete the unexpired one-year term.
In the Lawrence Township Board of Education race, five candidates were running for three seats. Incumbents Michele Bowes and Max Ramos along with newcomer Kelly Edelstein won seats on the board, defeating incumbent Dana Drake and challenger Glenn Collins. Drake, a former board president, had served since 2013.
Democrats Jim Kownacki and Christopher Bobbitt won handily in the township council election, with Republican Robert Pluta finishing a distant third in the race for two three-year seats. This is the third term on council for Kownacki, who has twice served as mayor, and the second for Bobbitt.
In Princeton, Jessica Deutsch, Beth Behrend and Michele Tuck-Ponder were elected to serve on the board of education.
Mayor Dave Fried won his fourth term in office, defeating challenger Sonja Walter in a landslide.
But there will be a new face on Robbinsville council after newcomer Mike Cipriano defeated two-term incumbent Sheree McGowan. Cipriano led all candidates, with incumbent Vince Calcagno also earning a fresh term.
In the Board of Education race, Lisa Temple won the one year remaining on Faith Silvestrov’s term, defeating Vito Galluccio. Galluccio, who was appointed to the board in September to fill Matt O’Grady’s seat, will remain on the board in that seat next year. Incumbents Sharon DeVito, Scott Veisz and Rich Young all won re-election to the school board.
West Windsor and Plainsboro
Mayor-elect Hemant Marathe and his team of council candidates—incumbent Linda Geevers and Virginia Manzari—swept the West Windsor municipal election by a strong margin, according to unofficial results from the Mercer County Clerk’s Office.
Marathe received 3,327 votes (48.38 percent) over challengers Kamal Khanna with 2,144 votes (31.18 percent) and Yan Mei Wang with 1,389 votes (20.2 percent) in the race for township mayor.
Come January, Marathe will be replacing retiring long-time Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh. Ironically Hsueh defeated Marathe in in last mayoral election in 2013. Since then, Marathe has been a frequent opponent of Hsueh on a number of his initiatives while serving as a member of West Windsor Council.
In the race for two seats on council, it was Marathe’s slate up against a slate led by Khanna—Kristin Epstein and Yingchao “YZ” Zhang, who opted not to run for reelection to the WW-P School Board to seek election to council. See below for school board election results.
Geevers was the top vote-getter of all candidates, both mayoral and council, with 3,554 (27.51 percent). Manzari captured the second seat with 3,212 votes (24.86 percent). Epstein brought in 3,068 votes (23.75) and Zhang finished a close fourth with 3,065 votes (23.72 percent).
Comparing the results between the council and mayoral races, it’s clear that Wang acted as a spoiler, apparently stealing the most votes from Khanna, who received some 900 less votes than his council running mates. Marathe, meanwhile, was within about 100 votes of Geevers’ and Manzari’s numbers.
Despite the sweep, the election of Geevers and Manzari does not affect the balance of power on council. The seat now held by Councilwoman Jyotika Bahree (who was appointed earlier this year to the seat vacated by the resignation of Peter Mendonez) will be filled by Manzari, and the seat held by Marathe will be vacated as of Dec. 31. This creates a 2-2 voting bloc of Geevers and Manzari on one side and council members Alison Miller and Ayesha Hamilton on the other until Marathe’s seat is filled.
The remaining two years of Marathe’s term will be filled by a candidate chosen by council from among a list of applicants—the exact same process as earlier this year to used to fill Mendonez’s seat, according to Township Clerk Sharon Young.
Voters elected candidates supportive of the current direction of the school district in the contest for two West Windsor seats and one Plainsboro seat on the WW-P School Board.
In Plainsboro, incumbent Isaac Cheng handily won reelection with 1,640 votes, as opposed to 968 votes for Peter Syrek and 348 votes for Russel Melville, who ran a minimal campaign.
In the West Windsor contest, incumbent Dana Krug and her running make Martin Whitfield won election over Rakesh Kak and anti-administration candidates Veronica Mehno and Yanping “Helen” Ming, who were running together.
Krug, with 3,201 votes (27.04 percent), and Whitfield, with 3,196 (27 percent), won by a large margin over Mehno, with 1,955 votes (16.52 percent), Ming, with 1,944 votes (16.42 percent) and Kak, who had 1,530 votes (12.93 percent).
Whitfield will be filling the seat vacated by Yingchao “YZ” Zhang when he opted to run for West Windsor council instead of reelection to his seat on the board.
Plainsboro Township Committee
In the race for one open seat on Plainsboro Township Committee, Mayor Peter Cantu, who was running unopposed, received 3,270 votes.