Democrats win Metuchen, Woodbridge municipal races; majority of incumbents regain seats on school boards


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The Middlesex County Clerk’s Office has finalized election results.

There were contested elections for seats on the municipal governing body for Metuchen and for the unexpired Ward 1 seat in Woodbridge during the general election on Nov. 8.

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There were also contested elections for seats on the Boards of Education (BOE) in Metuchen, Edison and Woodbridge.

Metuchen Borough Council – Two, three-year terms

Democratic incumbent Dorothy Rasmussen received 3,995 votes, and Candidate Lisa Hyman, received 3,910 votes, in their winning bids for the two, three-year term seats that were available in the general election.

Republican candidates Eric Lignell received 1,962 votes, and Richard Thoren, received 1,882 votes, in their losing bids for the seats.

There were 21 write-in votes cast.

Prior to the election, Rasmussen and Hyman shared what they would like to work on if reelected, elected, respectively.

Rasmussen, who will begin her fifth term in January 2023, said she would like to continue the work of the Metuchen Climate Plan.

“Pursuing grants for projects that are important for our residents’ quality of life, especially the environment, would be a priority,” she said. “Maintaining our Sustainable Jersey certification will also be an important matter because with certification, we achieve practical, tangible results in sustainability. I hope to partner with our residents in the actions we undertake to make Metuchen a great place to live.”

Hyman, who will begin her first term in January, said she wants “to create opportunities for more residential involvement in town.”

“The best way to make Metuchen your home is being a hands-on part of its improvements and solutions,” she said. “Joining your neighbors in projects dear to your heart sparks relationships, makes you feel vested, builds community pride and it’s fun.”

Woodbridge Township Council Ward 1 – Three-year unexpired term

Democratic candidate Sharon McAuliffe received 2,722 votes in her winning bid for the three-year unexpired term available during the general election. Republican candidate John Vrtaric received 2,213 votes in his losing bid for the seat.

McAuliffe was appointed in January to fill the seat after the passing of Ward 1 Councilwoman Nancy Drumm.

There were eight write-in votes cast.

Prior to the election, McAuliffe shared what she would like to work on if elected.

“As a Council person, our main focus is on improving the quality of life for our residents. We need to control speeding on residential streets and improve traffic flow while also providing quality schools for our students and recreational opportunities for our children, families and senior citizens. We have to improve our valuable Sewaren waterfront and bring more new business to Woodbridge. I am proud to have voted for a municipal zero tax increase and I believe that improving our property values is of the utmost importance to us as elected officials.”

Edison BOE – Three, three-year terms

Former Board of Education member Joseph Romano received 9,265 votes, Board incumbent Xiaohan “Shannon” Peng, with 8,763 votes, and Candidate Vishal Patel, received 7,904 votes in their bids for the three, three-year term seats available during the general election.

Peng, Romano and Patel ran on the “Edison Students First” ticket.

Board incumbent Kevin Hajduk received 6,791 votes, Board incumbent Shivi Prasad-Madhukar received 5,913 votes, Candidate Manasi Mathur received 5,407 votes, Yash Pandya received 3,584 votes, Minesh Patel received 3,274 votes, Nisha Banginwar has received 3,084 votes, and Christo Makropoulos received 2,194 votes, in their losing bids for the seats.

There were 195 write-in votes cast.

Peng will begin her third term; Romano will be coming back to the board after previously serving six years and Patel will begin his first term in January 2023.

Prior to the election, Peng, Romano, and Patel, shared what they would like to work on if reelected, elected, respectively.

Peng: Overcrowding. While on the board, I helped save taxpayers over $10 million in the budget, at the same time brought back full-day kindergarten, added 40-plus classrooms/gyms, new science curriculum in middle and elementary schools, new sports fields and dance studios and computer labs in the high schools.

Our team has a dream. Kids should have enough classrooms to take any course, beautiful sports fields to play on, state-of-art auditoriums to perform at, and bright shining cafeterias to dine in. Our teachers should have all the tools and training they need, come to school every day with something to look forward to, and go home feeling accomplished and rewarded.

We have to continue implementing our dream. It really hurts when another course/lab is canceled, or another extra-curriculum program is cut due to lack of a classroom or resource. Our students, teachers, taxpayers deserve better.

Romano: Work with the board and school community to ensure that students are first. Work with the town to ease the overcrowding of our schools and hire teachers and staff from within our school system.

Patel: Holding school administration accountable.

Metuchen BOE – Three, three-year terms

Board incumbents Alicia Sneddon Killean received 3,849 votes, Eric Suss, with 3,758 votes, and Jonathan Lifton, with 3,529 votes, in their winning bids for the three, three-year terms available during the November election.

Candidate Michael Cummings received 1,564 votes and John “Jack” Hand received 1,433 votes in their losing bids for the seats.

There were 115 write-in votes cast.

Prior to the election, Sneddon Killean, Suss and Lifton shared what they would like to work on if reelected.

Sneddon Killean: I’d like to focus on getting back to the basics of education. The past few years have been a whirlwind for students, staff, and families. Returning to an academic focus and providing opportunities for students to be well-rounded global citizens, critical thinkers, and problem solvers is something that every district should be striving for right now, and Metuchen is no different. We have a tremendous amount of talent in our schools guiding our children and finding ways to support their needs so that they can help our children grow is very important to me.

Suss: I would like to improve the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) experience at all student levels and grades, provide the best physical environment for our children to learn and grow in a fiscally responsible manner (see the upcoming referendum), increase the transparency of district operations and provide more opportunities for parent involvement, maximize our investment in technology to improve the educational experience of all our children, continue to raise the bar for all students and ensure that they are constantly challenged, and ensure that on a day-to-day basis our schools continue to operate in a fiscally responsible manner.

Lifton: As a construction industry professional and the chair of the Referendum Committee, I would be in a unique position to help the district execute the referendum plans efficiently and effectively should they be approved by the public. In addition, with our teachers’ contract expiring at the end of this school year, I hope to bring my experience as chair of our Negotiating Committee for the last four teacher contract negotiations to the discussions and to help continue the Metuchen tradition of respectful and positive relationships with our teachers and their leadership.

Woodbridge BOE – Three, three-year terms

Board incumbents Joseph Velez received 12,397 votes, Jonathan Triebwasser received 11,003 votes, and Akshar “AJ” Sidana received 10,746 votes, in their winning bids for the three, three-year term seats available during the general election.

Candidate Thomas E. Maras received 8,553 votes in his losing bid for a seat.

There were 307 write-in votes cast.

Prior to the election, Sidana shared what he would like to work on if reelected.

Sidana: Help bring our Woodbridge Township School community to the forefront of learning, while making equitable decisions in the best interest of the community at large.

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