Primary voters confirm candidates for Howell municipal election


HOWELL – Democrat Theresa Berger will seek a second four-year term as Howell’s mayor and will be challenged by Republican Suzanne M. Brennan in the Nov. 3 general election.

Berger and Brennan won the nomination of their respective political parties in the July 7 primary election.

Berger received 3,612 votes from Democrats and Brennan received 3,432 votes from Republicans to secure their spots on the November ballot.

In the race for one four-year term on the Township Council, Republican Evelyn O’Donnell will seek a second four-year term and will be challenged by Democrat Andre de Garmeaux.

Their nominations were also confirmed on July 7 as O’Donnell received 3,417 votes in the Republican primary and de Garmeaux received 3,534 votes in the Democratic primary.

In Howell’s form of government, the mayor is directly elected by voters, but is a member of the five-person Township Council. The mayor runs the council meetings.

Berger and de Garmeaux comprise the Democratic ticket, while Brennan and O’Donnell comprise the Republican ticket.

“When I was elected mayor, Howell was set to have the largest development boom in our history,” Berger said. “I was able to stop and undo some of the damage done by the previous Howell administration. To do this we need to diversify the council and by adding André, he will continue the fight with me to keep Howell the town we love.”

Brennan, an attorney, previously served on the Howell K-8 School District Board of Education.

“I am excited for the campaign and look forward to sharing my vision for Howell. It is a very special place to live and I will always work hard to contribute all I can to my community,” Brennan said.

“As we head toward November, I am hoping we will go back to in-person voting. The primary election mail-in voting process was very problematic. … If a similar process is used for the general election, I fear that voters will be disenfranchised and that it will take even longer to count the ballots because there will likely be more to process,” she said.

O’Donnell joined the council in January 2017 and is serving as Howell’s deputy mayor in 2020. She joined Brennan in calling for a return to in-person voting in the Nov. 3 election.

Under a directive from Gov. Phil Murphy, only very limited in-person voting was permitted during the July 7 primary election due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am certainly hopeful the governor will revert to our previous and well run practice of voters going to the polls in November,” O’Donnell said.

“We are working hard and are grateful to all of our supporters who are side by side with us in our efforts. My last four years show a strong and continued devotion to Howell. During the next four years I will be working with the same love for my hometown. I look forward to this challenge in the election and to continue focusing on Howell’s future,” she said.

de Garmeaux is the operator of Highland Kennel, which has been his family’s business for 42 years. He has also worked in the field of computer science.

He serves on the Howell Shade Tree Commission and he has been involved with an effort to stop a mulch and dirt depot on Randolph Road from being converted into a solid waste transfer station.

“I’m happy to see we (Democrats) received more votes than our Republican opponents. While that was only the primary election, I think it shows momentum going into the general election,” de Garmeaux said.