Updated: Unofficial Election Results: Dems Retain Council Dominance; Merris, Shaban Hopkins Slate Wins BOE Race

Mayor Phil Kramer, right, and Township Councilman Ram Anbarasan review voting results on November 2.

Final tallies were updated on November 9, and included all provisional and write-in ballots.

Democrats have once again swept the Township Council race with four incumbents and one newcomer being installed by Franklin voters, according to unofficial results of the November 2 election.

In the Board of Education race, the slate of incumbent Laurie Merris and newcomers Sami Shaban and Dennis Hopkins Jr. outpolled six other candidates, including one incumbent, according to the unofficial results.

The unofficial vote totals from the Somerset County Clerk’s Office include early voting, mail-in voting and voting occurring on November 2. They do not include provisional ballots.

Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter has until later this month to certify all votes.

The unofficial results indicate that Township Council Incumbents Shepa Uddin, Charles Onyejiaka, Carl Wright and James Vassanella won re-election. Newcomer Ed Potosnak was also elected to the Council.

If the results stand, Potosnak, a current Board of Education member, will occupy the seat held for years by Ted Chase, who opted not to seek re-election this year.

The Township Council unofficial vote count was as follows (√ indicates winner. Numbers are from Somerset County Clerk’s Office):

  • Ward 1:
    Laxman Kanduri (R): 1,081
    √ Ed Potosnak (D): 2,384
  • Ward 2
    Howard Streger (R): 2,307
    √ Shepa Uddin (D): 3,739
  • Ward 3
    Andrew Dars (R): 1,044
    √ Charles Onyejiaka (D): 2,115
  • Ward 4:
    Stella Mitzen (R): 580
    √ Carl Wright (D): 2,590
  • Ward 5:
    Robert “Kash” Kashinsky (R): 760
    √ James Vassanella (D): 2,092

In the Board of Education race, the unofficial vote count was as follows:

  • √ Laurie Merris: 8,230
  • √ Dennis Hopkins Jr.: 7,934
  • √ Sami Shaban: 7,859
  • Pat Stanley: 3,442
  • Michele Petersen: 2,844
  • Rani Angel: 1,579
  • Parul Patel: 2,907
  • Montese Anderson: 2,157
  • Wendell Sellers: 1,101

Shaban said on election night that he plans “to learn a lot and to listen to the parents, the staff, the teachers and everyone involved in the education process and make it the best school district we can to give every student the opportunity to self-actualize their best potential.:

“If we can do that for each kid, that’s great,” he said.

In other races, former Township Councilwoman Shanel Robinson won her re-election bid for the Somerset County Commission, as did her running mate, Sara Sooy.

Robinson made history four years ago when she became the first person of color to be elected to the then-Freeholder board, and also the first woman of color to be named Freeholder and then Commission Director.

It was also the first time a Democrat had been elected to the Freeholder Board in decades.

On the state level, Franklin resident Assemblyman Joe Danielsen and his slate won re-election in the 17th District. Former Township Councilwoman Catherine Barrier was unsuccessful in her effort to unseat Danielsen or his running mate, Assemblyman Joe Egan. Winning along with Danielsen and Egan was state Senator Bob Smith.

Gov. Phil Murphy won Somerset County against challenger Jack Ciattarelli – 58,041 to 53,926 – and held a commanding lead in same-day voting in Franklin, outpolling the challenger 6,131 to 3,865.

In total, about 20 percent of Franklin residents went to the polls on November 2.

This is a developing story which will be updated as more information becomes available.

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