Election 2016: Onyejiaka Defends Council Seat, School Board Incumbents Win, Russo Falls Short


Poll workers arrive at the municipal building Nov. 8 with voting machine tapes.

Township Councilman Charles Onyejiaka successfully defended his position and two incumbents and a newcomer were elected to the Board of Education on Nov. 8.

School board incumbents Nancy LaCorte and Christine Danielsen won re-election, and newcomer Ardaman Singh won the seat being vacated by board member Julia Presley, who did not seek re-election.

In another race involving a township resident, retired township police Lt. Darrin Russo, a Democrat, fell short in his bid to unseat long-time Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provenzano.

Onyejiaka, a Democrat representing the 3rd Ward, won his seat in the special election over Republican challenger Beverly Briggs-Lawson, 3,028 to 1,449.

The vote totals do not include those from the 14th voting district. Those votes could not be immediately counted because of a malfunction in a voting machine.

Onyejiaka occupies the seat vacated earlier this year by Phil Kramer when he was sworn in as mayor. The term ends in 2017, so the seat becomes available in next year’s election.

“I feel very good and I’m very happy,” Onyejiaka said after his win was confirmed. “I worked very hard with the help of my colleagues, most especially my great mayor.”

Onyejiaka said he would “continue to work very, very hard” for his constituents in the 3rd Ward.

Danielsen led the school board candidates with 10,445 votes, followed by Singh with 9,239 votes and LaCorte with 7,827 votes.

The three weathered late write-in challenges from residents Andre Fryson and Kunal Lakhia.

Singh, who has been a fixture at school board meetings for years, said her victory was “overwhelming.”

“I didn’t know that 9,000 people would vote for me,” she said. “I’m very humbled.”

“I’m still a parent first, and everything I say or do or vote for, I’ll have the parents in mind,” she said.

LaCorte said she was looking forward to working with Singh and “continuing working on improving our schools.”

“I’m really proud of what we’re doing, really proud of what we’ve done and really proud of the direction we’re going in,” she said.

Russo, a 30-year decorated veteran of the FTPD, congratulated Provenzano on his win and thanked his supporters.

“I want to say thanks for all the help, the great support given by my wife, kids, friends and volunteers,” he said. “It was a long, tough battle that came very close.”

Russo garnered 71,118 votes to Provenzano’s 72,920, in what has been the most expensive Somerset County Sheriff’s race in the last 15 years.

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