HOWELL – After three days of recounting votes, Howell Deputy Mayor Evelyn O’Donnell continues in her role as she wins the race for Township Council against Democratic candidate Andre de Garmeaux.
A Monmouth County judge had ordered the recount after de Garmeaux and O’Donnell were only separated by 320 votes, after more than 30,500 ballots were counted. O’Donnell received 15,415 votes in comparison to the 15,095 De Garmeaux received.
After de Garmeaux requested recount, the result left O’Donnell actually picking up several votes.
“The recount left the race in about a one percent deficit for this rookie candidate,” de Garmeaux wrote in a Facebook post. “I truly hope the incumbent serves the town well.”
He then challenged Republicans to fulfill their campaign promise to stop the over development.
“Based on the election outcome, the Howell GOP will continue to maintain a majority on the township council and deliver responsible good government,” The Howell Township Republican Committee wrote on Facebook the day before the official recount numbers were announced.
According to Board of Elections Commissioner Eileen Kean, the original margin was unusually broad for a recount. Kean stated how they normally don’t do a recount unless you’re within 20 votes and that they’ve been performing this way for years. Kean also stated how the recount cost approximately $20,000 since it involved hiring 35 workers per day.
Ballots were recounted on December 7 and 8. The Board of Elections workers then totaled the final numbers on December 9. In total, workers recounted 27 boxes of ballots.
According to Commissioner Allan C. Roth, the Board of Elections’ secretary, three workers had tested positive for COVID-19 while working on recounting ballots.
“Their symptoms have been mostly mild,” Roth said, “but we had one person who had a very high fever.”
After the results of the recount were announced, De Garmeaux said he plans on continuing his volunteer work with the Howell Food Pantry.
Mayor Therea Berger, who was De Garmeaux’s running mate, kept that seat and won reelection by a vote of 16,615 to 14,392 over Republican challenger Suzanne M. Brennan.