Recount confirms O’Donnell victory in Howell council race

HOWELL – A recount of election results has confirmed that Repbublican Evelyn O’Donnell has been re-elected to her second four-year term on the Howell Township Council.

O’Donnell held off a challenge from Democrat Andre de Garmeaux, who was seeking his first term, in the Nov. 3 election.

According to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, O’Donnell received 15,415 votes and De Garmeaux received 15,095 votes.

The final vote totals following the recount were not immediately available.

On Dec. 15, O’Donnell told the Tri-Town News the recount increased her winning margin by an additional 10 votes.

“The Democratic Party certainly had every right to ask for a recount and I had no objection to their request and stated that to the judge on the morning of the hearing. Certainly I am ready to put that portion of the election process behind me and I am anxious to continue working for the residents of Howell,” O’Donnell said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish Howell a wonderful holiday season. I hope the season finds everyone safe and healthy. Our reorganization meeting will be Jan. 5 and I look forward to a new beginning and a new year with my fellow council members,” she said.

State Superior Court Judge Linda Grasso Jones, sitting in Freehold, granted a request from de Garmeaux for a recount of the results nearly three weeks after Election Day.

On Dec. 11, de Garmeaux posted a concession on his social media.

“With all the concerns over ‘mail in’ ballots and about a 1% difference between the candidates, a recount of all the votes was completed. After watching the recount up close and personal, the concerns were not what you might have thought,” de Garmeaux said.

“Many votes got mailed in ‘without’ the ballot in the envelope, or with a P.O. box as an address, or with no signature, and were therefore not counted.

“When provisional ballots (cast at polling locations on Nov. 3) were counted, the system kicked them out as duplicate if a vote had already been cast by mail – preventing voter fraud.

“The system they have in place, even with COVID restrictions, worked near flawlessly. Redundancies are built in and the (election) commissioners and staff work hand in glove to make sure everyone’s vote had a chance to be counted. The recount left the race in about a 1% deficit for this rookie candidate,” de Garmeaux said.

“I truly hope the incumbent serves the town well. I look forward to seeing how she will make good on her promise to ‘stop the building,’ ” he said.

The Howell Township Republican County Committee posted a message on social media congratulating O’Donnell on her re-election.

“The recount requested by the Howell Democrats is over and Evelyn O’Donnell won again. In fact, she picked up more votes during the recount. … Based on the election outcome, the Howell GOP will continue to maintain a (3-2) majority on the Township Council and deliver responsible good government.”

In the Nov. 3 municipal election, Democrat Theresa Berger was elected to her second four-year term as mayor. Berger turned back a challenge from Republican Suzanne Brennan.

According to results posted online by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, Berger received 16,615 votes and Brennan received 14,392 votes.

In Howell’s form of government, the mayor is directly elected by voters and serves as a member of the five-person Township Council.

The next scheduled municipal election in Howell will be in November 2022.