Lakewood Briefs – November 18, 2020

LAKEWOOD, NJ -

Rep. Smith Re-Elected for 21st Term

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) easily won re-election to what will be his 22st term in the House of Representatives.

“I want to thank the fine people of Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties for sending me back to Washington, and I pledge to continue to fight for you. I am absolutely committed to protecting people with pre-existing conditions, Lyme disease, Alzheimer’s; I will press on in the fight for funding for autism; I’ll continue to work around the clock to safeguard women and children from human traffickers; and, of course, continue to help local families dealing with COVID as we act to reopen the economy—there is so much yet to do,” said the Congressman in a statement.

Rep. Smith, first elected in 1981, was declared the victor with 147,466 of the votes (56.86%) to Democratic challenger Stephanie Schmid’s 107,870 votes (41.59%).

Rep. Kim Wins Re-election by Wide Margin

Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) won a second term defeating Republican challenger David Richter. Despite predictions that the race was likely to be highly competitive and too close for pollsters to call, Rep. Kim bested his opponent by a wide margin taking nearly 55 percent of the vote to Mr. Richter’s 44 percent.

The seat has historically been held by Republican’s and in 2018, Rep. Kim capitalized on local anger over former Congressman Tom MacArthur’s votes for a tax overhaul and attempts to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Even so, then he squeaked out a victory by only 4,000 votes. He is now the first Democrat to win re-election in recent history.

The third district spans much of southern Ocean County which is heavily Republican, but also covers most of Burlington County which includes some areas of the Philadelphia suburbs which are densely populated and increasingly Democratic leaning.

Jackson Elects first Orthodox School Board Member and Three New Town Councilmen

Jackson Township voted in several new faces including the first member of the Orthodox community to serve in a public post-in this instance the district’s school board.

Tzvi Herman ran unopposed but faced stiff write-in challenges from Allison Barocas and Mike Braun. Their candidacy was largely the result of discussions on social media from individuals opposed to the idea of a board member whose children attend private schools. Preliminary results reported by the Asbury Park Press gave Mr. Herman 8,678 votes to 7,858 for both write-in candidates together.

A three-member slate of Marty Flemming, Steve Chisolm Jr., and Nino Borrelli ran unopposed to serve on the Township Council. Mr. Fleming and Mr. Chisolm were appointed to replace former members Robert Nixon and Barry Cologero who each gave up their posts mid-term. Many observers attributed their sudden resignations to pressures stemming from their involvement in a set of ordinances seen as intended to stunt the Orthodox community’s influx to Jackson.

Preliminary results also pointed to approval for a ballot question that asked residents if they were willing to take a small hike in property taxes in order to finance the purchase of more open spaces for preservation.

Lakewood COVID Numbers Continue to Decrease

The number of reported COVID cases continued to drop, but a significant number of cases remained. Last week, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) posted a total of 108 infections, down from 146 the week prior.

The total number of infections is likely significantly higher than OCHD’s metrics as it is impossible to factor in cases that are either untested or figures that are no properly reported. Still officials feel that the county’s reports represent a large part of Lakewood’s COVID picture and show a marked downward trend of infections.

Incumbents Win in Lakewood

In keeping with township elections in recent years, there were no surprises in Lakewood elections with voters returning incumbents to their seats by wide margins.

Mayor Ray Coles and Committeeman Michael D’Elia were far ahead of challengers. Three members of the district’s school board were returned to their posts as well.

Lakewood Votes Against Marijuana Legalization, Despite Wide State-Wide Approval

Lakewood voters bucked the state and county-wide trend of favoring a ballot question on legalizing marijuana for recreational use. While over 66 percent of New Jersey voters approved the measure, in Lakewood over 68 percent voted no.

Lakewood’s position even contrasted the Ocean County tally, where voters long tagged as conservative leaning approved the measure by 59 percent of the vote.

The matter will no go to New Jersey’s legislature which is charged with developing a regulatory system for the drug necessary to legalize its use.