Local Organizations Gear Up For November 8 Election Races
By Donald Gilpin
With the November 8 Election Day just a month away, posters, lawn signs, social media appeals, email blasts, and TV ads are proliferating.
On the Princeton ballot, Democrats Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros are running unopposed for re-election to Princeton Council. Five candidates, three incumbents — Debbie Bronfeld, Susan Kanter, and Dafna Kendal — and two new candidates, Lisa Wu and Rita Rafalovsky — are competing for three available positions on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.
Also on the ballot locally will be candidates for U.S. House of Representatives for the 12th District, Democrat incumbent Bonnie Watson Coleman and Republican challenger Darius Mayfield, as well as Board of Mercer County Commissioners candidates incumbent Nina D. Melker and Cathleen Lewis (Democrats) against Michael Chianese and Andrew Kotula Jr. (Republicans).
Local organizations have been focusing on several especially tight races in the area, with nothing less than control of Congress and a wide range of important issues at stake.
Democrat Andy Kim is running for re-election against Republican Bob Healey in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes all of Burlington County as well as parts of Ocean County. In the 7th district, which includes all of Hunterdon County plus parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union and Warren counties, Democrat Tom Malinowski is running for re-election against Republican Tom Kean Jr.
“As a group, we’ve been focusing our efforts on volunteering for competitive local races, like Andy Kim, Tom Malinowski, and John Fetterman [candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania], in addition to our own representative, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman,” said Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) First Vice President Jane Manners. “So many critical issues are at stake in this year’s midterm elections: climate change, reproductive rights, the future of Social Security and Medicare, and of democracy itself. All Democrats must get out and vote this November.”
The PCDO is urging supporters to participate in the Mercer County Democratic Committee Day of Action for Pennsylvania candidates on Saturday, October 8, as well as multiple opportunities for canvassing and phone banking in support of Malinowski and Kim.
On October 13 at 6 p.m., 10 area mayors, including Princeton Mayor Mark Freda, will be hosting a fundraiser for Reed Gusciora’s campaign for mayor of Trenton. Visit the PCDO website at princetondems.org for further information.
Dudley Sipprelle, longtime chair of the Princeton Republican Committee and secretary of the Mercer County Republican Committee, discussed the Republicans’ prospects and reasons why he is “hopeful and expecting a positive outcome at the midterms.” Some of the issues that are motivating the Republicans and spurring optimism, he said, include the economy, particularly inflation; illegal immigration; and “heavy-handed government” along with the growth of government regulations at all levels.
“What concerns us is that there seems to be a lack of definable policy by the current administration, including Congress, to really address those issues,” said Sipprelle. “That’s why we think that’s going to resonate.”
He went on to criticize the Democrat-controlled local government, as well as the Board of Education for a “lack of real citizen input,” he said. “And when there is input, they stack the panel” or enlist consultants who “render opinions the people who hire them want to hear.”
Sipprelle said that local Republicans had been working to support Mayfield in his challenge to Watson Coleman, Healey in his race against Kim, and Kean in the third district contest against Malinowski.
The Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) has been busy developing and distributing Peace Voter Guides and raising funds for signature ads for two Congressional races. The guides compare Malinowski and Kean in the 7th district on key peace issues, and in the 2nd district, they compare Democrat Tim Alexander to Incumbent Republican Jeff Van Drew.
The CFPA’s Peace Voter Guides seek candidates’ positions on a range of issues related to gun legislation, climate change, diplomatic efforts, and nuclear weapons.
“We need to focus on the elections that are going to be the closest,” said CFPA Executive Director the Rev. Robert Moore. “We can’t do all of them — just the ones where we think we can have a real impact.”
Moore pointed out that the Malinowski-Kean contest is rated the closest in the state. “This is where we’re investing the most organizing effort.” Malinowski responded affirmatively to all 10 of the pro-peace questions posed by CFPA, “but Tom Kean ignored our overtures,” said Moore. “He’s missing in action. You can hardly find him. He’s really insular in that sense.”
Moore noted that the Peace Voter Guides have been very effective. “We call it voter education, but it also is voter motivation,” he said. “A big part of trying to win elections is getting people to the polls. You have to give them a reason that they feel genuine concern or passion about.”
He went on to emphasize the importance of gun violence prevention, noting that New Jersey has the second strongest gun safety laws and the third lowest per capita rate of gun violence in the country. “Those two things are very much related, I think,” he added.
Most recently the CFPA has published its Peace Voter Guide on Alexander and Van Drew in South Jersey’s 2nd district. Alexander, a new candidate and former Atlantic City police officer, responded positively to all of the pro-peace questions on the Peace Voter questionnaire.
“He’s very impressive,” said Moore. “He’s seen it from both sides. He went into depth on all of the issues we presented — impressive intellect.” Although the 2nd district is “solidly Republican,” Moore is optimistic that Alexander will present a strong challenge.
More information on the Peace Voter Guides and other CFPA initiatives is available at peacecoalition.org.