On Election Day, there were a number of offices on the ballot in Princeton, including the Governor, State Senate, General Assembly, Town Council, and School Board, as well as two ballot initiatives involving gambling and one involving land preservation.
Incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy won re-election against Republican and former Assembly Member Jack Ciattarelli, making him the first Democrat to win re-election in the past four decades. The last Democrat to do so was Brendan Byrne in 1977.
The race was close — The Associated Press did not call the election until 6:28 p.m. on Nov. 3 after Ciattarelli had been in the lead well into the early hours of that Wednesday morning. Mail-in ballots, counted after Election Day ballots, pushed Murphy over the edge. Mail-in ballots had to be received by Monday, Nov. 8. Ciattarelli did not concede the race until Friday, 10 days after the polls had closed.
Murphy sat in the lead in polls in the days leading up to the election. In the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, released Nov. 1, Murphy was eight points ahead of Ciattarelli, with 50 percent of respondents indicating their support for Murphy and 42 percent for Ciattarelli.
Neither Murphy nor Ciattarelli responded to repeated requests for comment.
Gregg Mele, the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, told The Daily Princetonian that he is proud of his campaign, which received 0.3 percent of the vote, and that, “the Libertarian Party looks forward to building on the momentum of this election season.”
The ballot measures amending gaming rules to permit fundraising raffles and to allow more land preservation passed 64 percent and 76 percent, respectively. However, the measure that proposed a constitutional amendment to permit wagering on college sports or athletic events did not pass, with only 43 percent of voters voting ‘yes.’
In New Jersey’s 16th Legislative District, Andrew Zwicker (D), a former member of the State General Assembly, defeated Michael Pappas (R) for the State Senate seat after incumbent Republican State Senator Christopher Bateman did not run for reelection. Zwicker is the first Democrat ever to win the 16th District’s Senate seat, which was created in 1974.
Democrats Sadaf Jaffer and Roy Freiman won the two open General Assembly seats over Republicans Joseph Lukac and Vincent Panico. Jaffer’s win wasn’t called until the mail-in votes had been counted on Thursday, Nov. 11. Jaffer is the first person of color and first Democrat woman to represent the 16th District.
Jaffer is an Associate Research Scholar and lecturer at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
“I'm really proud to have the support of the voters of the 16th District and looking forward to representing everyone in the district, bringing the perspective of a local mayor, educator, researcher, and a parent to that role,” Jaffer said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “There's a lot of work that we need to do to strengthen our state and to strengthen our communities, and I’m really honored to have the opportunity to represent our district.”
For the Princeton Town Council, Eve Niedergang GS ’85 and Leighton Newlin both won unopposed, with approximately 6,200 votes each.
“I’m honored and excited that the voters of Princeton have supported me for a second term on Council,” Niedergang wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “My colleagues (including Newlin) and I share a progressive vision of an affordable, diverse, equitable, dynamic and sustainable Princeton; that is a goal towards which we are all working every day. I am very lucky to serve with such terrific colleagues and in such a great community.”
Newlin expressed similar sentiments.
“I'm honored and privileged for the opportunity to serve the citizens of Princeton, and I'm ready to get to work,” Newlin said. “We have some major issues facing us: affordable housing, sustainability, diversity, social equity, access, all of those things that I ran on. One of the greatest challenges we have ahead is to build a greater partnership with the University to build a world class infrastructure here in the town of Princeton. But we're ready to get to work and try to make Princeton better not just for some of the people but for all people.”
In the Princeton School Board elections, Brian McDonald ’83 (with 27 percent), Mara Franceschi (with 25 percent), and Betsy Baglio ’96 (with 25 percent) won the three open spots on the board, while Jeffrey Liao (with 23 percent) was fewer than 300 votes away from third place.
Liao told the ‘Prince’ that he thanks McDonald, Baglio, and Franceschi for “running excellent, positive campaigns.”
“Regardless of the final outcome of the election, we are all fortunate that we have well-qualified community members willing to take on these important volunteer roles, and that we can rest assured that our children and our school district will be in good hands,” Liao added.
Charlie Roth is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at email@example.com or @imcharlieroth on Twitter or Instagram.
Lia Opperman is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @liamariaaaa on Instagram.