November 16, 2022

Local Election Outcomes Look Clearer

By Donald Gilpin

Incumbents Susan Kanter, Dafna Kendal, and Debbie Bronfeld appear to be winners in the 2022 Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) election, though provisional and some mail-in ballots are still to be counted. The result will not be official until certified by the county clerk by November 21.

Voting machine failures and a problem with temporarily missing ballots from three Princeton precincts delayed the count, but by late Friday afternoon, November 11, ballots from the three precincts had been tallied, along with those of Princeton’s 19 other precincts, early votes, and mail-ins that arrived by Election Day on November 8.

Kanter with 3,744 votes (24.9 percent), Kendal with 3,516 votes (23.4 percent), and Bronfeld with 3,325 votes (22.1 percent) seem to have secured re-election for another three-year term on the PPS Board. Challengers Margarita “Rita” Rafalovsky with 2,716 votes (18.1 percent) and Lishian “Lisa” Wu with 1,733 votes (11.5 percent) have fallen short.

The leading incumbents chose not to comment on the election, and significance of vote totals, until the results are official.

In the election for two seats on Princeton Council, Democrats Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros were running unopposed for a second term. Sacks has so far received 5,496 votes, Lambros 5,405.

Democrats Cathleen Lewis with 47,560 votes (31.7 percent) and incumbent Nina Melker with 48,209 votes (32.1 percent) appear to have won election to the Mercer County Board of Commissioners, defeating Republican challengers Michael Chianese, who won 27,648 votes (18.4 percent) and Andrew Kotula Jr. with 26,796 (17.8 percent).

In the Congressional election for New Jersey’s 12th district, incumbent Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman has handily defeated challengers Darius Mayfield, a Republican, and Lynn Genrich, an Independent. Coleman has registered 93,947 votes (60.2 percent) to 60,523 (38.8 percent) for Mayfield and 1,487 (1 percent) for Genrich.

Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello expressed disappointment at the failure of county voting machines and the delays incurred, but declared that she had full confidence in a reliable vote count. “We’ll count them all,” she said. 

She noted that the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting an investigation. “Election officials have no suspicion of any purposeful wrongdoing, but we need to have the matter reviewed to determine if there was an error or malicious intent,” she said.

Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, in a November 12 announcement, called for a “thorough public review” of what went wrong in the voting and a “comprehensive overhaul of the elections process in Mercer County.”

Hughes stated his support for the investigation by the county prosecutor, but noted, “We also need a more thorough and public review. We’ve got too many people in control and the quality of our elections has suffered as a result, undermining people’s faith in the democratic process.” 

He added, “We must fundamentally change the management of the election process in Mercer County because it is clearly not working.”