SOMERVILLE, NJ - Voters will have their hands full on Election Day deciding who’s the best candidate for mayor as well as two seats on the Borough Council.
That’s for starters.
They’ll also decide the fate of incumbents and challengers for two seats on the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders; whether to reelect Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th to a sixth term in the House of Representatives, or replace the longtime Hunterdon County resident with his Democratic challenger, Tom Malinowski, who has lived in the district for less than one year after moving to New Jersey from Washington, D.C.
At the top of the ballot, voters will be asked to reelect Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, scarred by scandal and admonished by his Senate colleagues, or his Republican challenger, billionaire pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin.
Both the congressional and Senate contests have national implications with the outcomes impacting the balance of power in the US Senate and House of Representatives. All four campaigns have spent millions on televised attack ads, as the national Republican and Democratic parties spar over the New Jersey elections.
New Jersey voters will also be asked to approve a ballot question that would authorize the state to borrow $500 million to spend on education and infrastructure.
Public Question No. 1 is known as the Securing Our Children's Future Bond Act.
This act would allow the State to borrow a total principal amount of $500 million. This money would be used to provide grants to county vocational school districts and county colleges to construct and equip buildings to increase capacity in career and technical education programs. The money would also be used to provide grants for school security projects at kindergarten through grade 12 schools. The money would also be used to provide grants for school district water infrastructure improvement projects. Three hundred fifty million dollars would support county vocational school district projects and school security projects. Fifty million dollars would support county college projects. One hundred million dollars would support school district water infrastructure improvement projects.
Lastly, borough voters will be electing members of the Somerville school board.
Republican Mayor Ellen Brain, who was appointed to office in a temporary capacity to fill out former Mayor Brian Gallagher’s term in January by members of the Democratic Borough Council, is running to fill out the remaining two years of Gallagher’s term, who resigned after winning election as a Somerset County Freeholder last year.
Brain is the first female mayor in the history of Somerville and retired corporate executive who works as an adjunct English professor at Raritan Valley Community College. She has served on the Somerville Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, and the Somerville Library Board
Her Democratic opponent is Councilam Dennis Sullivan, a retired Somerville school teacher who has served on the Borough Council for 24 years.
Brain’s running mates are former Councilman Jason Kraska and Hank Werner, a recently-retired police officer.
Kraska is a lifelong Somerville resident and graduate of Somerville High School and Lock Haven University. He was a member of Somerville Borough Council from March of 2015 through December of 2017, serving as Police Commissioner, Recreation liaison, and Youth Services liaison. He is responsible for obtaining the grant used to restore Southside Park. He continues to serve the Borough as a member of the Recreation Commission.
Werner had been a law enforcement officer beginning his career in March, 1990, first with Raritan Borough, then as a NJ Transit officer, and since 1994, as a member of the Bernards Township Police Department, teaching Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) in the middle school. He retired earlier this year.
Sullivan’s running mates are Councilman Tom Mitchell and Councilman RanD Pitts, owner of the Evolve clothing store on Main Street.
Sullivan won his first election to the Borough Council in 1994; he gave up his council seat to run for mayor in 2003, losing to Gallagher by 3 votes.
Sullivan ran again in November, 2004, was re-elected and has served continuously on the council since 2005.
Suillivan has lived in the borough since 1978, Sullivan also ran unsuccessfully in 2001 and again in 2006 for a seat on the Somerset County Board of Freeholders.
Mitchell was first elected to the Borough Council in 2003. Mitchell’s service extends well beyond Borough Hall, volunteering with the Boy Scouts for the last 25 years.
Republican Freeholder incumbents Mark Caliguire and Somerset County Freeholder Director Patrick Caliguire are running for re-election. They are opposed by Democrats Shanel Robinson and Sara Soy.
An attorney and resident of Montgomery Township, Caliguire has served as a freeholder since 2011 and had been a member of the Montgomery Township Committee prior to that. He ran unsuccessfully last year as the Republican candidate for the 16th legislative district, a seat formerly held by Assemblyman and gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, a Hillsborough resident. Caliguire was defeated by Assemblyman Roy Freiman, also a Hillsborough resident.
Scaglione has a long history of public service. He was elected to the Board of Freeholders in 2010. Currently he serves as director of the freeholder board, a position he also held in 2014. He served as deputy director in 2013 and 2017. A resident of Bridgewater since 1991, he served on the Bridgewater Township Council from 1998-2010. Prior to that, he served on the township Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Robinson is running for the second time, after coming within 1500 votes of winning a seat on the Freeholder Board in 2017. She is an Air Force veteran, two-term Councilwoman in Franklin Township, information technology executive, Christian minister, and grandmother. Sooy is a lifelong resident of Bernardsville, and works as a commercial banker. She has served two terms on the Somerset Hills School Board; she has also served as a Commissioner on the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women since 2015,
There are seven candidates for Somerville Board of Education Voters will elect three. Candidates include current school board members John Prudente and Daniel Puntillo; former school board president Norman Chin who lost his bid for re-election last year, and Melissa Sadin, Dan Carlson, William Kimmick and Roger A. Vroom III.
Polling places will open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Locations of polling places are listed below:
District 1, Senior Center, 1 Mountain Road;
District 2, West End Hose Company, 135 West High St.;
District 3, Somerville High School, 222 Davenport St., Orchard St. entrance;
District 4, Good Shepard Lutheran Church, 300 Union Ave.
District 5, Engine Company No 1, 170 E. Main St.;
District 6, Good Shepard Lutheran Church, 300 Union Ave.;
District 7, Vanderveer School, 51 Union Ave.;
District 8, Lincoln Hose Company, 24 Warren St.
District 9. Vanderveer School, 51 Union Ave.