SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The 2018 campaign for Scotch Plains Township Council featured six candidates who generally seemed to like each other and held a candidates debate on October 22 in which they seemed to agree on many issues, including downtown development and outrage over racist graffiti.
However, in the last two weeks before the election, the campaign mailers and letters to the editor seemed to be increasingly partisan. Quietly, the Democrats put together a strong ground game, and won handily in District 1 and 2 on the north side of town as well as many other sections of the Township.
Elizabeth Stamler (D): 5,591
Josh Losardo (D): 5,484
Rashon "Roc" White (D): 5,391
Jeff Kowalczyk (R): 4,480
Andrew Bondarowicz (R): 4,410
Sonali Dalvi (R): 4,329
"All the hard work has paid off," said Scotch Plains Democratic chair and retiring Councilman John Del Sordi. "This victory sends a message to the mayor that he doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of this Township. Our vision is to move this town forward."
Newcomer Elizabeth Stamler, the top vote-getter among the six candidates for Scotch Plains Council, said she was relieved the campaign is over.
"I’m humbled that I won and am happy to win with my running mates," Stamler said.
Rashon "Roc" White told the crowd: "I want to thank John for putting the team together. Now it’s time for us to get to work."
"I can’t believe all the hard work paid off," said a humble Josh Losardo. "We can thank Donald Trump for one thing: helping to get out the vote."
At the somber Republican headquarters at the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, Mayor Al Smith thanked candidates Andrew Bondarowicz, Sonali Dalvi, and Jeff Kowalczyk, and their supporters. Many were surprised not only by the fact that the Democrats had taken three contested seats, but also by their 1,000 vote margin of victory.
"We are down two-to-one (in party registrations). If they turn out their base, it’s tough for us to win," Mayor Smith said. "Our candidates were clearly head and shoulders above the people who got elected. But that’s not the way it works in this country; it’s who gets the most votes. We will do our best to work with them and to keep moving forward."
Mayor Smith also acknowledged that outside factors -- including anti-Trump sentiment in New Jersey and voters who pull the party lever without evaluating the candidates individually -- hurt the Republican candidates in Scotch Plains.
"I encourage you not to lose heart," Republican chair Paulette Coronato told Bondarowicz, Dalvi, and Kowalczayk. "The first time I ran, I lost too."