July 15, 2020

Fraga, Cohen Look Like Town Council Winners In Democratic Primary

By Donald Gilpin

In unofficial, incomplete results reported by the Mercer County Clerk’s Office on July 14, as the counting continues, incumbents Leticia Fraga with 3,255 votes (40.43 percent) and David Cohen with 2,871 votes (35.66 percent) appear to have won positions on the November ballot as Democratic nominees for two available three-year terms on Princeton Council. Contender Dina Shaw has received 1,903 votes (23.64 percent).

Mark Freda, running unopposed, won the Democratic nomination for a four-year term as mayor to replace Liz Lempert, who will step down at the expiration of her term at the end of 2020.  No Republican candidates have filed for the mayoral or council election in Princeton.

The July 7 primary election, postponed from June 2, was conducted mostly by mail, and the Mercer County Board of Elections is still counting the paper ballots, which include provisional ballots and a few more vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked by election day and arrived by July 14.

The November election now becomes the focal point on everybody’s radar.  “My office is already gearing up for the general election in November,” said Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello. “As soon as this election is certified on July 24, we will begin preparations for November’s election.”

School board candidates must file their petitions by July 27, with three seats up for grabs on the Princeton Public School Board of Education, and on August 10 the Clerk’s Office draws for ballot position for the general election.  Ballot prep and printing follow soon afterwards. “There really is no down time this year,” Sollami-Covello said.

With a presidential election and more contested races on the ballot than there were in last week’s primary, Sollami-Covello anticipated a much higher turnout in November.

“We do feel this primary election was a good test run for us,” she said. “It gave us practical experience as to what would be required to conduct an all vote-by-mail election if that is what is ordered by the governor for the November election.”

Sollami-Covello pointed out that the clerk’s office has learned better processes for mailing out the ballots, as well as “better ways to direct the mailing and
what we need to do in-house.”  She added, “We also learned that the results will not be provided quickly, which is something that candidates and campaigns and the public will have to get used to. There is no way to count this massive amount of vote-by-mail ballots quickly.”