SCOTCH PLAINS– Final results were still incomplete on Tuesday night as Democrats sought to expand their 3-to-2 majority on the township council with the mayor’s seat and a council seat up for grabs in this year’s unusual election.
“There are still lots of votes to count,” Republican mayor Alexander Smith, who is seeking a second term, told The Leader/Times late on election night. He is facing a challenge from deputy mayor Josh Losardo, a Democrat who was elected to the governing body two years ago. Mr. Losardo agreed with the mayor, telling The Leader/Times that he was “grateful for the support so far but there are many votes left to count.”
Incomplete returns late on Tuesday night showed Mr. Losardo receiving 57.5 percent of the vote, or 4,856 votes, to Mr. Smith’s 42.4 percent, or 3,582 votes. Meanwhile, preliminary vote tallies showed Republican councilman Ted Spera, who is also seeking a new four-year term, trailing Democratic challenger Ellen Zimmerman by a 61.1 to 38.8 percent margin, or 5,125 to 3,254 votes.
Unlike prior municipal elections, where the winners are typically known within an hour of polls closing at 8 p.m., final results for this week’s elections were not expected on election night, given the state’s vote-by-mail procedures and the related delays in tallying the many thousands of ballots received by the county’s board of elections. Nicole DiRado, the board of election’s administrator, told The Times last week that “nobody should expect any meaningful results on election night.”
The five-member governing body is currently composed of three Democrats — Mr. Losardo and his 2018 running mates, Elizabeth Stamler and Roshan White — and two Republicans, Mayor Smith and Mr. Spera. Dating back more than a century, Democrats have never had unanimous control of the council. In 2015 and 2016, they held four of the five seats before Mr. Smith and Mr. Spera won their elections four years ago.
The two mayoral candidates and the two council candidates participated last week in a forum sponsored by The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times in which issues such as downtown redevelopment, property taxes, the coronavirus pandemic, racial healing, shared services and recreation programs were discussed.
In the contested race for Fanwood’s Board of Education seat, incumbent Amy Boroff is leading over Maggie Savoca, 1,501 to 784.
In Scotch Plains, where two Board of Education seats are up for grabs, incumbents Evan Murray (4,328) and Karen Mitchell (4,736) are leading challenger David Levine (3,745).
Due to the combination of mail-in ballots, drop boxes and provisional ballots cast on Election Day, the Union County Clerk will be updating the election counts to the public at noon each day with the election being certified on Friday, November 20.
In typical election years, numbers are more readily available on Election Day due to machine tabulated votes capturing the majority of the votes and absentee (mail-in) ballots counting for a much smaller percentage.