2018 Election: Township Democrat In Historic Freeholder Victory; Former BOE Members Leading

Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy (left to right) became the first Democrats elected to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 40 years.

Township Deputy Mayor Shanel Robinson helped make history Nov. 6 when she became one of the first two Democrats elected to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders in nearly 40 years.

Election Day 2018 also saw the apparent return of two former Board of Education members and the victory of an incumbent.

Robinson, along with running mate Sara Sooy, defeated Republican incumbents Patrick Scaglione and Mark Caliguire.

Unofficial results have Robinson leading all candidates with 59,255 votes, Sooy with 57,741, Scaglione with 52,280 and Caliguire with 51.720.

In Franklin Township, Robinson received 15,384 votes, Sooy 14,741, Scaglione 5,603 and Caliguire 5,541. Those totals are without half of one voting district and provisional ballots.

All results are also pending the counting of as many as 20,000 mail-in ballots. County election officials won a court order on Nov. 6 to stop county the mail-in ballots at 8 p.m., due the number of them, and to resume counting them at 9 a.m. Nov. 7.

There are as many as about 2,400 mail-in ballots from township voters included in that 20,000 that need to be counted.

Robinson credited her win on the volunteers who helped in the get out the vote effort.

“It was because of the hard work of the volunteers and the people who were out there ready to get out the vote and represent their voice,” she said. “I’m ready to work with all people, those who voted or me and those who did not. There’s a lot of work to be done in Somerset County, and Sara and I are anxious to get started.”

Robinson’s departure in January means the Township Council will have to pick a temporary council member to fill out the remainder of her council term, which ends on Dec. 3, 2019. The township Democratic party will make three recommendations to the council, which will then make the final choice.

Mayor Phil Kramer, who was at county Democratic headquarters in Somerville watching the vote totals, said he will miss Robinson as the deputy mayor.

“I am sad to be losing the deputy mayor,” he said. “I’ve known her for many years, she cares, she is smart, and relatively new as councilwoman, but she started teaching me from day one.”

“Franklin loses a deputy mayor, but gains a new freeholder,” Kramer said. “Thank you to all of the voters in Somerset.”

County Democratic chairwoman Peg Schaffer said the party is “really excited about this victory.”

“They are going to be great on the economy, great on jobs and great on the college,” she said.

Robinson joins another Franklin resident on the Freeholder board, former Mayor Brian Levine.

With the mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted, as well as those from part of one voting district, it appeared as though former Board of Education members Pat Stanley and Ed Potosnak had succeeded in their return bids, while incumbent Laurie Meers retained her seat.

Stanley and Potosnak, the former board president, were defeated in their re-election bids in 2017.

Unofficial results show Stanley leading all candidates with 8,368 votes, Merris with 7,156, Potosnak with 6,378, Maria L. Tapia-Burch with 5,955, Joel Goldman with 2,983 and Beverly Briggs-Lawson with 3,203.

Franklin resident Daryl Kipnis was unsuccessful in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), garnering 67,389 voted to Watson-Coleman’s 145,274.

In Franklin, Kipnis received 5,252 votes while Watson Coleman received 15,889.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate interviewed Robinson, Sooy, Shafer and Kramer live on election night:


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