By JACQUELINE DURETT
EDISON — Councilman Joseph Coyle has gone from an appointed councilman to an elected councilman after last week’s election.
Coyle, who was appointed to his council seat in June following now-Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak’s departure, defeated Republican Gaetano (Guy) Gaspari by a two-to-one margin of the more than 30,000 votes.
“I think the Democrats were strong in the county and that was certainly a great help to me,” Coyle said, adding that walking to 4,000 township homes “didn’t hurt either.”
He said he heard from residents about their concerns — some were common, such as the increasing cost of living, while others were more particular to neighborhoods, such as road conditions. He said he believes that people want to “see more for what they pay for.”
He said he knows as the councilman with the least seniority, he does not have the experience that some of his colleagues have, but said he has used his talents and skills from his roles as a businessman and as executive director of the Edison Chamber of Commerce to bring people together at the neighborhood level.
He said he is impressed by what has taken place so far in Clara Barton and is proud to be a part of it and wants to take that model — residents taking ownership for their neighborhood — and bring it to other areas of the township.
Going hand in hand with that effort, he said he also wants to expand the reach of the environmental commission.
As for the Board of Education, the election put newcomers Shannon Peng and Richard Brescher on the board; reelected was Theresa Ward. Ward and Brescher ran with William Araujo, who was not elected. Ward received the most votes at 13,128; the remaining three were within striking distance of each other, with Peng receiving 11,988, Brescher at 11,819 and Araujo at 11,680.
Peng said she is grateful to the Edison residents who voted for her.
“I am so humbled to have the opportunity to serve our community. I also want to thank all my friends, family and volunteers who were on my side for the entire process,” she said.
She added that she is looking forward to working with Ward and Brescher. Peng said she faced an uphill battle with the three other candidates running together — three candidates who received support from both the local Republican and Democratic organizations.
“Unprecedented politics played heavily in this year’s school board election. My campaign encountered obstacles from the get go; however, all those challenges further motivated my team to work even harder. At the end, the voters spoke. Our children are our future, and we should always keep politics out of our children’s education,” she said.
Peng said while campaigning, she said she heard both ideas and concerns from residents and educators, and she plans to take all of that back to the board. She said she plans to spend the next three years putting the students’ interests first and being responsible for the district’s tax spending.
“I will work hand in hand with our residents, school board members, administrations, educators and staff to continue to improve our education system. We are all in this together,” she said.