JACKSON – As the township faced a mostly mail-in election due to the coronavirus pandemic, voters chose candidates for council, school board and one ballot question regarding open space.
This year’s school board election featured six candidates, four on the ballot, and two write-ins seeking three spots on the board.
Of the two, three-year seats it was incumbents Scott Sargent and Tara Rivera who came out on top. They defeated newcomer Anthony Mero for the two full-term seats.
Sargent received 13,754 votes while Rivera won her second term with 12,647 votes. Mero received 10,827 votes. There were 1,131 write ins for this race.
All of the numbers in this article were taken from the unofficial tally on the Ocean County Clerk’s website on November 10. They were not yet the official tally.
The Boards of Elections had until the end of November 10 to accept mail-in votes, Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said. They will only accept ballots post marked by 8 p.m. on November 3.
After that, the provisional ballots will be checked. These are ballots people fill out at the polls. They have to be compared against mail-ins to make sure people didn’t vote twice.
They also have to solve problems with any ballots that were questioned for not having a matching signature.
The clerk will certify the election results on November 23.
There was also a single-year seat open following the resignation of school board member Vicki Grasso last year.
Tzvi Herman, 31, won that seat on the board. He was facing two write-in candidates, Mike Braun and Allison Barocas.
Herman received 9,922 votes. His opponents had a combined 8,928 votes total. The county grouped the write-in votes together so it was not clear how many votes each write-in candidate received individually.
“I am humbled and grateful by all the support I received in Jackson. Jackson is a large community with many diverse needs. My goal is to represent all the children of our great town regardless of their background,” Herman said.
He added, “a strong public-school system is vital to our success as a community. I ran to bring a voice to the children whose needs may not have been met by the current system. I pledge to give all children that voice. Once sworn in I encourage anyone who may feel their children’s needs have been overlooked to reach out to me.”
In Jackson’s form of non-partisan government, candidates must gather a petition to run for the positions of mayor and council. Council incumbents Martin Flemming, Steven Chisholm and newcomer Nino Borrelli, a member of the Jackson Zoning Board, won full three-year terms on the governing body.
Borrelli will replace Councilman Ken Bressi on the dais. Bressi was not endorsed by the township’s Republican Club and opted not to run for another term on council.
“We are ecstatic about our record winning vote counts and very grateful to be elected overwhelmingly. I’m very thankful to the Jackson Township voters who placed their trust and confidence in Marty, Steve, and I to be their councilmen,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli added that he looked forward to working with the rest of the governing body on “initiatives like protecting valuable open space from development, keeping municipal taxes and spending in check, maintaining Jackson’s excellent AA+ credit rating, supporting local businesses as they get up and running from the COVID-19 pandemic, fighting against Trenton’s liberal mandates and policies, and standing with our police and first responders to keep our town safe and protect the quality of life we enjoy in Jackson.”
“I was humbled by the vast amount of Jacksonites, who came out to vote for our ticket, even though we were unopposed. I will do my best to exceed their expectations and make everyone happy they elected me. Just as important is the overwhelming support our townspeople gave to the open space initiative,” Flemming said.
Former Jackson Republican Club member Robert Skinner had waged a write-in campaign which utilized a social media radio program to bring his campaign message to voters. “I’m glad I received the number of votes I received, more than anticipated. All I cared about was that my message was delivered. This was a big learning experience for me,” Skinner said. He has not ruled out running for council in the future.
Flemming received 19,812 votes, Chisholm received 19,213 votes and Borrelli received 19,680 votes. Write-in votes came in at 2,560 votes.
Each council candidate had gone on record as being in support of a township ballot question calling for an increase to the community’s open space tax. This tax had been previously approved in 2004 but was reduced by Township officials during an economic down turn several years ago.
The council opted to go to the public to get their view on bringing it up to 3 cents. The question asked if residents wanted to increase the open space tax rate from 2 cents per $100 of equalized valuation to 3 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.
According to unofficial results posted on the website of the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, 15,519 residents voted for it while 11,769 opposed it.
“We hear the voters in Jackson loud and clear and passage of this ballot question will help pave the way for us on the Township Council to be able to use the available tax revenue to purchase valuable land throughout our town and protect it from development, preserve it as open space, and prevent urban sprawl,” Borrelli added.
Flemming added, “the entire council feels this is of the utmost importance going forward to try and keep the very essence of the Jackson everyone came here for. We will focus an immense amount of energy on this topic and hope, with the help of Ocean county, to acquire much more acreage this year and keep Jackson as rural as we can.”
This will raise taxes by approximately $33 for the average homeowner. Open space preservation has been the dominant subject for officials and residents at council meetings in the last several months. Township officials noted that the added revenue collected from the open space tax increase would aid them in the purchase of other open space properties in the township.