Incumbents and Favorites Win In Lakewood Area Elections

LAKEWOOD -

Election Day in the Lakewood area contained few surprises, returning a well-known list of incumbents to their seats on both local and national levels.

Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller, who polled 11,736 votes, and Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, with 10,071, both won re-election over challengers Bruce Stern, Jimmy Esposito, and Aaron Hirsh by large margins. Both have served on the five-member township committee for over 15 years.

While the two long-serving incumbents easily bested a field of little-known challengers, the committee that comprises Lakewood’s municipal government has been under increasing pressure from residents to do more to alleviate heavy congestion on many central roads that has grown significantly more intense over the last two years amid rapid residential development.

In national races, Democratic incumbent Senator Robert Menendez beat Republican Bob Huggin by a reported margin of 54 to 43 percent. Democrats generally hold a solid advantage in statewide New Jersey elections, but the fact that Sen. Menendez faced corruption charges in the past year energized the underdog campaign to unseat the two-term senator. In heavily Republican Ocean County, which includes Lakewood, Mr. Huggin polled 63 percent over Sen. Menendez’s 33 percent.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith who represents swaths of Monmouth and Ocean counties easily won what will be his 19th term in the House of Representatives, where he has been serving since 1981.

The only suspenseful race in the area, a neck-and-neck battle between two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur and former Obama administration advisor Andy Kim, was still considered too close to call as of Wednesday afternoon. Neither campaign released any statement, since mail-in and other special ballots were still being tallied. The third district which Rep. MacArthur represents contains parts of largely Democratic Burlington County and heavily Republican Ocean County, including Toms River. The district voted twice for President Barack Obama but was won in 2016 by President Donald Trump.

In a race for the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, incumbent Republican Gerry Little and his running mate, Gary Quinn, won by large margins. Mr. Quinn is new to the board and will take over the seat long held by John Bartlett who chose not to seek re-election, citing health challenges. The five-member board constitutes the county’s local government.

The Lakewood school board election had only three candidates, Moshe Bender, Chanina Nakdimen, and Heriberto Rodriguez, running for three seats. All had been serving on the board previously.

Jackson Mayor Michael Reina easily cruised to re-election over school teacher and union leader Tracie Yostpille. Mrs. Yostpille and two other candidates ran on the “Save Jackson” slate which focused heavily on stopping “Lakewood-style development” in Jackson. A week before elections, Mayor Reina had commented that some of the slate’s campaign material was “anti-Semitic.” While the town’s elections are held on non-partisan lines, Mayor Reina and other victors are affiliated with the Republican Party and the Save Jackson campaign was managed by Democratic operatives.