BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Republican Janice Fields was ahead by almost 600 votes in Tuesday night's unofficial election results for one seat on the Bernards Township Committee. The final vote count will likely change before the Somerset County election board certifies the results.

Fields received 3,723 votes, or 52.36 percent of ballots cast, according to results posted on the Somerset County website as of shortly before 10 p.m., with all township polling districts reporting at that time.

Democrat Sophia Chadda received 3,137 votes, or 44.11 percent of the ballots cast as of that time, according to the county's posted results.

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Independent Todd Edelstein, who entered the race as an Independent candidate, received 250 votes, or 3.52 percent.

The three-year term that was up for election this year begins in January 2020. Last year, Democrat Joan Harris was elected as the first Democrat to serve on the five-member Township Committee in two decades. Harris initially trailed two Republican candidates in an election for one of two spots open on the Township Committee, but eventually moved up to take the second committee seat after all votes, including mail-in and provisional votes, were counted in final results. 

Fields said during the campaign that her focus was on, "Community First." In a campaign statement, she said, "I am committed to small government that functions effectively on a zero-debt budget model and that works with the community to find solutions to problems."

In last year's election at this point, Harris was 500 points behind the Republican candidate, and after all votes were counted ended up winning by 29 votes, said Bernards Township Democratic Committee (BTDC) Chair, Nancy D'Andrea, 

D'Andrea said the Democrats would wait until "every vote" is counted before further commenting on the results. For example, the number of mail-in and provisional votes are yet unknown, she said late on Tuesday night.

D'Andrea said Chadda and the party are proud of the campaign they ran in this election.