November 5th General Election Information & Poll
Less than two weeks remain until the 2013 General Election and Sample Ballots containing the names of 33 candidates and 2 public questions have been released. This election will decide the next New Jersey Governor, State District 21 Senate & General Assembly legislators, Union County Sheriff, Union County Freeholders, Springfield Township Committee members, and Springfield Board of Education members.
Column A represents the Democratic slate of candidates while Column B represents the Republican slate of candidates. Candidates in Columns C through H are running for Governor & Lieutenant Governor under other party banners. For many years, Union County Democrats have enjoyed the advantage of being in Column A. According to N.J.S.A. 19:14-12, the County Clerk draws the ballot positions for the general election candidates 85 days before the election. Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, a Democrat and former Springfield Mayor, Township Committeewoman, and Freeholder, again drew Column A for her party ballot position. Many are suspicious about the integrity of the process and impartiality of the alleged random selection that has seen Democrats win Column A for a number of consecutive years.
At the bottom of the ballot, but with the most direct impact to Springfield, is the race for the two Township Committee seats. Incumbents Richard Huber and David Amlen are challenged by former Deputy Mayor Jerry Fernandez and Diane Stampoulos. Voters will have a chance to vote for two of the four separate candidates to serve on the Township Committee for a three-year term. Observers note what could be considered as a lack of faith by the Democratic party in their own Mayor David Amlen by placing him below the Deputy Mayor. Amlen and Huber have dealt with a year filled with controversy and scandal that has tarnished their campaign. They sent out a politically disguised e-mail on 9-11 to switch their position on the turf field. They were notable absent during two days of power outages during the Labor Day weekend. In April, they were called out for alleged improprieties surrounding the construction of a fence by a political operative. One of their political appointees resigned as municipal Prosecutor after his overtime on his watch skyrocketed due to his inexperience. At their first meeting of the year, they appointed newly elected Committeeman David Barnett as the Finance Chairman after it was revealed he was charged by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission with ”aiding and abetting an accounting fraud”. However, Springfield leans heavily towards the Democratic party and despite the popularity of the Fernandez-Stampoulos ticket, the race is expected to be very close and every vote will count.
The race for the three seats on the Springfield Board of Education is uncontested. Incumbents Scott Silverstein and Patricia Venezia are running with newcomer Scott Donner.
Three seats are up for grabs on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Incumbents Linda Carter, Bette Jane Kowalski and Sergio Granados are challenged by newcomers and Republican placeholders Marc Krauss, P. Mark Martini, and Ira Geiger. Granados was appointed six weeks before the election to fill the seat vacated by former Freeholder Daniel Sullivan who resigned to take on another paid County position overseeing the County Improvement Authority. This gives Granados the incumbent advantage although it is hardly needed in Union County. Carter, Kowalski and Granados will likely win, despite the popular Governor’s coattails. Krauss, Martini and Geiger also lack the experience and name recognition to help carry them to victory. They are political newcomers with the exception of former Springfield Township Committeeman Krauss, who suffered a relatively large and embarrassing loss during his re-election campaign. While the top three candidates in his last race were all within 60 votes of each other, his unpopularity was evident as he trailed behind by more than double the vote margin.
Democrat County Sheriff, Ralph Froehlich, is running unopposed. He is the longest-serving sheriff in New Jersey history, currently in his 12th term. In a county with significant Democratic voter registrations, he continues to enjoy the many benefits of the position. He officially retired over two decades ago in order to collect his pension in addition to his salary. Froehlich collects over $220,000 a year between his salary and pension payments, which have totaled nearly $1 million. Without a challenger, Froehlich will go on to serve his 13th term after the November election.
State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., of Westfield, represents Springfield and other towns in District 21, and is challenged by newcomer Michael Komondy. Komondy is a resident of Bernards Township and is widely thought of as a placeholder for the Democratic Party who is unlikely to win in District 21. His initial foray into politics started with a meeting with the disgraced former Union County Democratic Party Chairwoman Charlotte DeFilippo who resigned after scrutiny by state officials. The District is strongly supportive of the incumbent representatives, which also include Westfield resident Jon Bramnick and Summit resident Nancy Munoz in the Assembly. They are challenged by lawyers Norman Albert, Cranford, and Jill Lazare, Summit. Democrat Norman Albert, who also works in the Office of the County Counsel, has made numerous attempts on behalf of his party and fails to gain any traction. Kean, Bramnick and Munoz are expected to easily win re-election.
The race at top of the ballot is between gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono and incumbent Chris Christie and their respective running mates, Milly Silva and Kimberly Guadagno. With a huge lead in polls, Christie and Guadagno are expected to win. Buono and Silva lack the experience and name identification among New Jersey residents to be able to win enough votes.
Two public questions are on the ballot this year and both concern constitutional amendments. The first asks voters if they approve amending the Constitution to allow veterans’ organizations to use money collected from existing games of chance to support their organizations and the second asks voters if they approve amending the State Constitution to set a State minimum wage rate of at least $8.25 per hour. The amendment also requires annual increases in that rate if there are annual increases in the cost of living. The New Jersey League of Women Voters prepares an annual public question analysis and has released the information guide on their website. The first question is an uncontroversial issue that has little resistance. The second question is more controversial and political mail has been sent out by the Coalition to Preserve Jobs & Our Constitution to sway residents to vote No on Question 2.
The online version of the sample ballot for Springfield is available at http://ucnj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/union-sample-fm31.pdf
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