East Brunswick Democrats take over Township Council

EAST BRUNSWICK – With the votes counted and the signs picked up, residents of East Brunswick have chosen incumbent council member James Wendell along with council-elect Kevin McEvoy and Sharon Sullivan to fill four-year terms on the council.

All three newly-elected candidates won 20 percent of the votes for the three seats on the council. McEvoy recorded 10,316, Sullivan received 10,129 and Wendell registered 10,170, according to the Middlesex County election results as of Nov. 8. Provisional and mail in ballots were still being counted as of press time.

“A big thank you to my runningmates for their hard work and dedication to the campaign. Thanks to our Middlesex County Democratic Party Chairman Kevin McCabe and his organization and thanks to East Brunswick Democratic Party Chairman Dave Lonski and his leadership,” McEvoy said. “Thanks to the East Brunswick voters who came out in record numbers and voted for the Democratic team. Finally, it’s a new day in the East Brunswick political landscape and I am looking forward to improving the quality of life for all of our residents.”

McEvoy served as mayor from February to December 2016.

“My hope is to continue on a journey of progressive development and innovative programming that serves the needs and improves the welfare of our community,” McEvoy said.

Sullivan said, “The election for me, personally, provided me with personal growth and knowledge. I am proud that our team of Wendell, myself and McEvoy stayed focused on township goals and achievements [and] expressing them to the residents in a variety of ways.”

Wendell said, “I am encouraged that after all the negative and slanderous campaigning done by our opponents, the residents of East Brunswick spoke out strongly with how they feel about that type of campaign strategy. The people of East Brunswick are aware and have the ability to see who has ideas and who has a record of results. Under the leadership of Mayor Brad Cohen, we have accomplished a lot in a very short time and most people can see the results.

“I am excited to continue to represent the people of East Brunswick for a third term as councilman and after such a dark and negative campaign, I am now energized to continue to work with Councilman Michael Spadafino and Councilman Sterley Stanley, as well as our Councilwoman-elect Sharon Sullivan and Councilman-elect Kevin McEvoy,” Wendell continued. “. … It is going to be an exciting future for East Brunswick, and I would like to thank the residents of East Brunswick for their confidence in the job I have done the past, to elect me to represent them for another four years.”

Republican Camille Ferraro Clark recorded 14 percent of the votes, while Dharmendra Khona and Curt Philipczak both received 13 percent of the votes, according to the election results.

“The results were a referendum on President Donald Trump. Blue New Jersey has spoken. I understand the distaste some hold for his tweeting and behavior, it is not the best. However, the president is criticized at every turn,” Clark said. “He gets no acknowledgment or approval for any of his economic or political achievements, job growth, increase in affordable housing, strong stock market, unprecedented contact with North Korea, relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in support of our Israeli allies, just to mention a few. Not one gram of acknowledgment is given.”

Clark said this behavior diminishes the valid objections. Much like a child who holds a screaming tantrum and will not be mollified by anything and so is ignored, this is what is happening in the state.

“More rational minds are turned off by such attitudes. So, I am saying that had Trump not been an issue, the results would have probably been more tempered down the rest of the ballot, but I am neither crying foul nor screaming ‘unfair,’ nor saying that I could have then or should have then won,” Clark said. “I will work for the residents of my town as I have in the past, fearlessly, honestly and without seeking personal recognition.”

Khona said, “The results of the election were not the result we worked towards. Whether it was national politics at play or that the slate message for lower taxes, smarter development and a resident inspired vision for the future was unheard. This election was a pivotal one for East Brunswick. Now with an absolute majority on the town council and with a mayor from the same party, the elected leaders from the Democratic Party will bear all the accolades and ire for their successes or failures.”

“For the betterment of this town, I hope and pray that they do the right thing and make this town a better place for all residents, including over 75 percent of the registered voters that either didn’t vote for the newly elected members or didn’t vote at all, not to mention all the other residents that can’t vote like our children and non-citizens,” Khona said. “East Brunswick is at a pivotal junction. We will need to make some tough decisions while being mindful of the current residents and business owners.”

Clark said she hopes the governing body can stop the “insane spate” of building residential housing, which is taken place throughout the township.

“I would like to see that all building projects that encompass housing aspects do so without being able to ‘buy off or buy out’ of their COAH requirements. I hope that we can all put any animus behind us, recall that we are all neighbors in a culturally diverse yet closely connected community and that we can all work towards equitable compromises that better the community without destroying individual neighborhoods,” Clark said. “I hope that we can all celebrate Thanksgiving in the true sense that it encompasses. Thanks for getting through a difficult time, acknowledging our many gifts and sharing our good fortune with those more in need of assistance.”

Sullivan said that residents need to work together to enhance the quality of life in town.
“The council will continue with Mayor Brad Cohen to provide a stable tax rate while improving the services which are the reason that so many families including our own have chosen to call East Brunswick home,” Sullivan said.
Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.