BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- It took 14 days for candidates and voters in Berkeley Heights to learn who won the election to serve on the Township Council, but for Republicans Jeanne Kingsley and Jeffrey Varnerin, the wait was worth it.
Kingsley, the incumbent, garnered 4,138 votes, 26.08 percent of the total vote, while her running mate and first time candidate Varnerin received 4,029 votes, 25.40 percent.
The race was close, Democratic candidates, incumbent Susan Poage, garnered 3,932 votes, 24.78 percent of the vote, while her running mate and first-time candidate Bret Sayre received 3,743 votes, 23.59 percent of the votes cast.
In a statement, Kingsley said, “It’s been a long election process, and I am honored by the support of the Berkeley Heights residents. Thank you to Susan Poage for your service and to Bret Sayre for volunteering to run for office. Working together, we ensure Berkeley Heights continues to be a special place to live. Jeff and I are deeply committed to continuing to serve all residents with the passion, excellence and experience they deserve."
Varnerin said the “last six months have really been a journey,” adding he has been waiting for the results since election day, Nov. 3. Now that the results are in "I am excited and humbled that the voters of Berkeley Heights put their confidence in me. Thank you to my running mate, Councilwoman Jeanne Kingsley, our campaign team and my family for supporting me through this unique year. I can't wait to get started working on the future of Berkeley Heights. Thank you, Susan Poage, for your service and to Bret Sayre for throwing your hat in the ring. I’m very, very pleased at the outcome.”
Kingsley went on to say, “This was an election about resumes and experience. A councilman’s job is to maximize home values, that is our job. At the local level, political parties are irrelevant.”
As for how the election results were reported, she called what Union County did “despicable. Nobody that lives through a closely contested election should have to go through what we did.”
The county was reporting the results “as though they had voting machines and, they didn’t. They never gave to the population the number of ballots tallied or the number of ballots yet to be tallied. They should have held off (reporting) until they had real numbers,” she said.
Kingsley said she was watching the counting every day and “I’m grateful for the Union County election workers and don’t blame the workers who counted the votes. But, the numbers never should have been released without the appropriate caveats. It would be my hope in future elections we would never have to do this again.”
After today’s numbers were released, and it was apparent the few ballots left to be counted were not enough for either Poage or Sayre to overtake Varnerin or Kingsley, the Democrats said they would not be seeking a recount.
The Democrats in a joint statement said, “The final numbers show that residents are almost equally divided in their vision of who should lead our town, and we expect the Council to operate in a non-partisan manner to represent all of us. We can be united in working together to make our town better.” The complete statement can be found here.
In the three national races, Berkeley Heights voted Democratic all the way.
In the race for President of the United States, Berkeley Heights supported Joseph R. Biden with 4,614 votes, while Donald J. Trump received 3,503 votes.
Voters also supported Sen. Cory Booker with 4,296 votes, vs. Rikin Mehta who received 3,752 votes in the race for United States Senator.
Congressman Tom Malinowski, 7th District, who garnered 4,083 votes, squeaked past challenger Thomas H. Kean, Jr. who received 4,060 votes.
There were three public questions on the ballot and township voters strongly supported each one.
None of the results reported above are official, the final, official count will be certified and reported by the Union County Clerk’s office on Nov. 20.
To see the details of this year’s races, visit the Union County Election Results Page here.