Good morning, New Jersey.
Polling stations are now open in South Toms River, where a general election will be held again in 497 days in November 2020 for a seat on the district council.
Prolonged litigation and slow appellate court judges working at home during the pandemic forced the municipality to miss a chance to fill a vacancy in the November 2021 snap election, with taxpayers paying a $ 80,000 bill for the free election today.
On Election Day 2020, Republican Council member Sandford Ross and Democrat George Rutzler received 772 votes each. Now they will finally get a chance to stand in the new election.
Electoral officials hope to approve the election by March 23, after receiving ballot papers by mail, counting previous ballots and returning medical letters. The winner can then take the oath, and only 59% of the three-year term remains.
After the 2020 election, after the Democratic campaign successfully dropped two ballots by mail that were incorrectly filled in, Rutzler took the lead and was swore in office.
But in April 2021, after Rutzler served four months, Supreme Court Justice Arnold Goldman ruled to dismiss Rutzler and special rematch election match between Rutzler and Ross will take place in June. These snap elections were then called off following an appeal by the Attorney General’s Office, although some votes had already been cast.
Democrats have unfairly suggested that Goldman, a Republican, played party politics in his decisions.
Republicans have a 5-0 majority on the district council. South Toms River has Democratic Mayor Gregory Handshy, who will be re-elected this year. Handy defeated Ross in 2018 with 96 votes in 2018.
In 2021, Republican Oscar Cradle defeated incumbent Democratic President Robert Taylor by 204 votes, 502-298, leaving Democrats without seats on the district council. Board member Samuel Fennel, who was elected Democrat in 2018, was re-elected Republican last year.
In 2020, Joe Biden scored 80 votes in South Toms River. South Toms River and Harvey Cedars were the only municipalities in Ocean County that Donald Trump lost that year. U.S. Sen. Corey Booker won the district with 120 votes, and MP Andy Kim got it with 285 votes.
In tomorrow’s independent elections, Rutzler is losing these features – and the political situation in 2020.
Last year, Republican Jack Chattarelli won in South Toms River with 120 votes against Gov. Phil Murphy. State Senator Christopher Connors (R-Lacey) received 119 votes.
Polling stations are open in South Toms River from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on March 15. Nineteen safe ballot boxes the whole of Ocean County is also open, but in South Toms River they are not.