South Brunswick: Town’s Votes Likely To Decide 16th District Legislative Race

Democrats Maureen Vella and Andrew Zwicker. Credits: Charles W. Kim
Assemblywoman Donna Simon. Credits: Charles W. Kim

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – As Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon and Democratic challenger Andrew Zwicker await the outcome of their super-tight race in the 16th District, one point is clear no matter how cliché, every vote matters.

Zwicker is currently leading the incumbent by 61 votes with all provisional votes counted in three of the four counties making up the district.

Middlesex County will count its votes, all from South Brunswick, at some time Monday, according to officials.

Sign Up for E-News

GOP incumbent Jack Ciatarelli will return to Trenton by winning the most votes in last week’s election with 16,567, and Democratic challenger Maureen Vella was turned away by voters with 16,020, only 547 votes away from Ciatarelli’s high.

In the middle, the battle really heated up with Zwicker at 16,283 and Simon at 16,222 with 51 votes still to be counted in Middlesex County.

South Brunswick is the only municipality from that county in the district.

Zwicker, a South Brunswick resident and director at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Lab, ended up 29 votes ahead as of Tuesday night.

Provisional ballots in three of the four counties counted during the week increased his lead to 61 as of Sunday morning.

If he were to hold on, he would be the first Democrat to represent the district, ever.

The Republican stronghold reformed following the 2010 census by adding heavily Democratic South Brunswick and Princeton in Mercer County to make it more competitive.

In the three election cycles since the change, Democrats have edged closer and closer to splitting the district.

Even so, Tuesday’s result, and possible Democratic upset, flew under the radar of most pundits throughout the state, who believed it would stay in Republican hands.

“I’m really proud of our grassroots campaign,” a hopeful Zwicker said Sunday. “It really shows that every vote counts.”

For Zwicker, it has been a real roller coaster ride of emotions, from actually conceding the race with Vella around 11 p.m. Tuesday night at Conte’s in Princeton, to looking more and more as if he will get Simon’s seat in the assembly.

Simon said Saturday that she is waiting to see what happens when all the votes are counted, only then deciding if she will ask for a recount, or challenge the results.

Only 23 percent of the district’s 143,404 registered voters, or 32,546, went to the polls Tuesday, according to official figures from the counties and the state.

Democrats gained 4,000 registered voters on Republicans following the reformation, but the district’s largest share of voters comes from 69,932 unaffiliated residents, according to the state.

Only 0.84 percentage points separate all four candidates, and the difference between Zwicker and Simon is currently only 0.09 percent, according to the results.

The “bump” that could have put Zwicker over the top may have actually had more to do with the South Brunswick Board of Education race.

Incumbents Barry Nathanson and Peter St. Vincent were returned to the body with 2,548 and 2,380 votes respectively.

Board President Dr. Stephen Parker also won re-election with 2,239 votes.

Both Nathanson and St. Vincent are aligned with the athletics part of the district which has gained seats on the board in recent years with Dan Boyle and Pat DelPiano.

Zwicker, whose son Matt Golden played football for SBHS, and his daughter who plays varsity sports as well, are well known amongst those in that particular clique.

The SBHS athletic vote could have given Zwicker the advantage in the overall race.

Both the Republicans and Democrats conducted primarily “quiet” campaigns this cycle consisting of knocking on thousands of doors in the district and mailings to voters.

Neither side appeared to spend a lot of money on the race.

Zwicker said Sunday that Democrats did not spend much on the race because it seemed that the district would likely stay Republican.

The Zwicker/Vella campaign did benefit, however, from two Princeton events that brought out State Senate President Steven Sweeney, D-Camden, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, and several other Democratic elected officials from the state and Mercer County.

Voters leaving the polls in South Brunswick on Tuesday said that they couldn’t define any particular issues that they wanted addressed, but felt it was their obligation to cast their ballots.

“It’s important for people to vote in any election,” Bruce Feldman of Kendall Park said as he left the polling site at the Community Center in Woodlot Park. “It is a right our veterans have fought and died for.”

Did you like this story?

Give us your feedback at ckim@tapinto.net or nwells@tapinto.net.

If you did like it, please share with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, and don't forget to "Like" our Facebook Page!

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Steven Cahn for Ward 3 Piscataway Township Council

May 19, 2018

Why I am Running for Township Council:

I am running for re-election for the 3rd Ward Piscataway Township Council position because I want to remain part of the team that has been very successful in making great improvements to our community in recent years. We have been named three times (2008, 2010, 2014) by MONEY Magazine as one of the best towns to live in America. I am also running because ...

Michele Lombardi for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council

Hello, I’m Michele Lombardi, your Piscataway fourth ward councilwoman. I’m asking for your support in the upcoming democratic primary race on Tuesday June 5th. I care about what happens here in Piscataway.

I have lived in Piscataway my whole life, I was raised by parents who have strong family values and taught me to be involved in my community. My dad was a volunteer firefighter ...

Mohammed Raqeeb for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council

Mohammed Raqeeb for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 4?

Piscataway is a very special place to my family and me. Along with my wife, I have been a homeowner here for 13 years, where we are raising our 3 children. I am running to be the Ward 4 representative on Piscataway’s Township ...

Frank Uhrin for Ward 1 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election to the Piscataway Township Council?

Little League baseball and Pop Warner Football have taught me a lot: teamwork matters, hard work counts, and there is a place and role for everyone.I cherish the time I spend as a Little League commissioner and Pop Warner president because the sparkle in every child’s eye when he or she makes a great play or comes to ...

Dr. Tom Connors for Ward 2 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 2?

I have been a resident of Piscataway for the past 30 years.   I have been a Democrat my entire life.  I am running for election because I'm tired of Piscataway’s career politicians who have made decades of unfulfilled promises. In my book, they get a failing grade for how they have handled the ...

Staci Berger for Ward 3 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 3?

I am running for the Piscataway Township Council Ward 3 position because our community needs new leadership. I will be the independent, principled, and collaborative advocate our neighborhood deserves.

I have been a Piscataway homeowner for 20 years.  I am proud that my husband, Bill Irwin, and I are raising ...

Dr. Jacqueline Littlejohn - Candidate for Piscataway Town Council

Why are you running for election to the Piscataway Township Council?

I am running for election to the Piscataway Township Council because I believe that a vibrant democracy only flourishes when the governed have a voice in their government, be it in the form of compromise, protest, or even becoming viable candidates themselves. I have chosen the latter approach. As a candidate I want to be the ...

The Piscataway Democratic Organization Names its 2018 Ward Slate

The Piscataway Democratic Party is putting forward an incredible slate of ward candidates for the Township Council.  “Frank Uhrin, Jim Bullard, Steven D. Cahn and Michele Lombardi have brought us a 12 percent drop in the tax rate, many new job opportunities for hard working residents, and a rise in property values,” party chair and former mayor, Ted Light said.  ...

New Jersey State Motor Vehicle Commission Returns to South Plainfield

May 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A new state Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) opened its doors in South Plainfield on Monday, just one week shy of a year since the borough’s former agency closed its doors. The office, located at 5000 Hadley Road, will provide in-person services to residents of the borough and the surrounding communities six days a week. 

“I would like ...


Toms River – Mary Stella Whiteman, 97, passed away peacefully Saturday May 19, 2018 in Rose ...
Read more
Piscataway – Reinhard Rudolf Kiefer, 85, died Sunday March 11, 2018 at home. Born in ...
Read more

Relay For Life Top Fundraiser Brianna Cagan – Event Set For June 2

May 20, 2018

When Brianna Cagan’s dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she and her family wanted to do something meaningful to fund cancer research. Brianna, her mom Sue Kelly, and their friends started a started a Relay For Life team called “Pearly Girls.” Seven years later, the high school freshman is the American Cancer Society’s top individual fundraiser for the Berkeley ...

ESCNJ Raises $12,000 at 6th Annual 'Autism Awareness' Fundraiser

For the 6th straight year, the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey's (ESCNJ) Annual Autism Awareness Swim & Play fundraiser on behalf of Autism New Jersey was a great success.

Total funds raised were approximately $12,000, as a result of pledges for laps completed, T-shirt sales, and families participating in arts and crafts activities.

The event received additional ...

Violent Campus Rapist Sentenced in New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - While walking across the Rutgers new Brunswick campus two years ago, a young woman was grabbed, viciously beaten, and raped by a middle-aged man from Newark.  She was saved by several students who intervened on her behalf.  Yesterday, her attacker was sentenced to 22 years in prison with no early release possibility.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey ...

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that was ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&M@royalwedbot.co.uk.  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...