Elections

Election 2017: Four Candidates Seek 2 Somerville Borough Council Seats

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Democrat candidates for election to the Somerville Borough Council are incumbent Dennis Sullivan, left, and running mate Frederick Weid V.
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Republican candidates for election to the Somerville Borough Council are incumbent Jason Kraska, left and Jennifer Pearson.
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SOMERVILLE, NJ – Four candidates are vying for two 3-year terms on the Borough Council, with incumbents at the top of both tickets.

Voters will also elect a new governor to replace Gov. Chris Christie, choosing between Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who has served under Christie for eight years.

Also on the ballot are two public questions, one dealing with funding for public libraries; the other deals with dedicated funding for environmental clean-ups. 

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Somerville residents will also be voting for candidates in the 16th District state Senate and state Assembly races.

Voting will also take place for the Somerville Board of Education; state legislators voted in 2012 to move school board elections from April to November.

There are six school board candidates in Somerville for three seats; all are for three-year terms.

The candidates are Norman Chin, Robert M. Fenster, Derek J. Jess, Candace Matthews, Melissa Sadin and Denise Van Horn.

Longtime Democratic Councilman Dennis Sullivan is seeking reelection to the Borough Council and is joined by Fred Wied V, a third-generation resident of the borough and resident of Somerset Street.  

Sullivan 68, is a retired Somerville teacher. He has lived in the borough for 46 years and was first elected to the Borough Council in 1994. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2003 and the Somerset County Board of Freeholders in 2001 and 2006.

The Republican candidates are led by incumbent Councilman Jason Kraska, joined by Jennifer Pearson, a senior home mortgage consultant with Wells Fargo, 92 E. Main St.. She also has a residence on Main Street.

Wied lost to Kraska by 18 votes in the 2015 Borough Council election for an unexpired two-year term. The vote was 973-955.

Kraska, a resident of Vanderbeek Avenue and graduate of Somerville High School, was appointed to the Borough Council in April 2015 to fill the unexpired term, and was elected to fill the last two years of that term in November, 2015. Previously, he had served as chairman of the borough’s Recreation Commission and was a member of the Somerset County Planning Board. He had run unsuccessfully for Borough Council in 2013.

Kraska is the lone Republican member of the Borough Council. Fellow Republican and Mayor Brian Gallagher, who has served on the Borough Council and as a mayor for 14 years, announced in February that he was a candidate for Somerset County Freeholder. He ran unopposed in the June primary.

Gallagher joins incumbent Brian Levine, seeking his second term as a freeholder; previously, he served as mayor of Franklin Township.

The county Republican ticket is headed by County Clerk Brett Radi, a former member of the Hillsborough Township Committee. Radi has been County Clerk since 2003; he served as Deputy County Clerk from 1993-2002.

Opposing Radi is Somerville Borough Council President Steve Peter, a resident of E. Cliff Street, who heads the Democratic county ticket. Peter is joined by Freeholder candidates Shanel Robinson and Alex Avellan.  Robinson is a member of the Franklin Township Council; Avellan, a law school graduate, lives in Bernardsville.

Radi was elected to serve as Somerset County Clerk in 2003 and re-elected in 2008. Prior to that, he served as Deputy County Clerk from 1993 through 2002. He served as Hillsborough Township Municipal Clerk from 1988-91, and was appointed to serve as the Hillsborough Township Administrator in 1992. He was a member of the Hillsborough Township Committee from 1995-1998 serving as Deputy Mayor in 1996 and Mayor in 1997 & 1998.

Somerville residents will also be voting in the state Senate and state Assembly races in the 16th District.

Republican incumbent Christopher “Kip” Bateman, a longtime public servant, served in the state Assembly from 1994-2008 before he was elected to the state Senate. He is opposed by Hillsborough resident and attorney Laurie Poppe. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Hillsborough Township committee in 2015 and 2016.

The Assembly race in the 16th District features Democrat Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and running mate Roy Freiman. He is  a resident of Hillsborough and a political newcomer. He formerly was an executive with Prudential.

They are opposed by former Assemblywoman Donna Simon, a Readington resident who lost to Zwicker in 2015 by a 70-vote margin, and former Montgomery mayor and Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire.

There are two ballot questions which require a yes or no vote:

Public Question Number One:

Do you approve the “New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act”? This bond act authorizes the State to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount of $125 million. The proceeds of the bonds will be used to provide grants to public libraries. The grants will be used to build, equip, and expand public libraries to increase capacity and serve the public.

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT Approval of this bond act will allow the State to sell $125 million in State general obligation bonds. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to provide grants to construct, expand, and equip public libraries. Municipalities or counties that fund public libraries will match the grant amount. The municipality or county may solicit private funding to support its match. The State Librarian, in consultation with the President of Thomas Edison State University, will set eligibility criteria for the grants.

Public Question Number Two:

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT DEDICATING MONEYS FROM STATE ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION CASES Do you approve amending the Constitution to dedicate all moneys collected by the State relating to natural resource damages in cases of contamination of the environment?

The moneys would have to be used to repair, restore, replace, or preserve the State’s natural resources. The moneys may also be used to pay legal or other costs incurred by the State in pursuing its claims.

INTERPRETIVE STATEMENT This amendment would dedicate moneys collected by the State relating to natural resource damages through settlements or awards for legal claims based on environmental contamination. These moneys would be dedicated to repair, replace, or restore damaged natural resources, or to preserve the State’s natural resources. The moneys would be spent in an area as close as possible to the geographical area in which the damage occurred. The moneys could also be used to pay for the State’s legal or other costs in pursuing the claims. Currently, these moneys may be used for any State purpose.

Polls are open from 6 a.m.-8 p.m.  Polling places are at the following locations:

District 1 – Senior Citizen apartment building, 1 Mountain Ave.

District 2 – West End Hose Co., 135 West High St.

District 3 – Somerville High School, 222 Davenport St.

Districts 4 & 6 – Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 300 Union Ave.

District 5 – Engine Co. No. 1, 170 E. Main St.

District 7 & 9 – Van Derveer School, 51 Union Ave.

District 8 – Lincoln Hose Co., 24 Warren St.

There are 156,019 registered voters in Somerset County; 31.4 percent are registered Democrats, 24.6 percent are registered Republicans and 43.7 percent are unaffiliated.

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