Weed Question Passes But Final South Orange-Maplewood Board of Ed Seats to Be Determined

by The Village Green
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“We won’t know much on Election night,” said Maplewood Township Clerk Liz Fritzen in a story we posted on November 2.

How right she was.

Not only is the nation — indeed, the planet — holding its breath awaiting the results of the U.S. Presidential election, but small local races are also taking longer to tabulate, including the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

The Essex County Clerk’s website posted results at 8:33 p.m. on November 3; however, the website did not provide information on what percentage of the vote the results represented and if they did or did not include all mail-in votes as well as in-person votes. County Clerk Chris Durkin has not yet responded to a request for more information.

The tally showed Susan Bergin and Courtney Winkfield with commanding leads at 10,375 and 10,192, respectively, followed in third place by Elissa Malespina with 7,718 votes. However, Malespina’s lead over Deborah Engel was only 9 votes. Melanie Finnern was in 5th place with 5,406 votes. The top three vote getters win seats on the Board of Education.

Maplewood Democratic Committee Chair Ian Grodman told Village Green on Tuesday night: “We don’t know any votes by candidates, only total numbers. Approximately 14,500 Maplewood voters including mail in up to yesterday and people voting in person today.”

It might take “a week or so” to learn the results of many races, South Orange Township Clerk Ojetti Davis said in an interview published before the election.

Gov. Phil Murphy noted at a press conference on Nov. 2, that not knowing results on Tuesday night did not indicate voter fraud or “anything amiss,” But was to be expected in this unique election year.

Nonetheless, several local results are known: Kamal Zubieta, who was running unopposed to finish out a term on the BOE, was elected. Vic DeLuca and Dean Dafis, who were also running unopposed for two seats on the Maplewood Township Committee were reelected.

And finally, the statewide legalization of marijuana ballot question passed easily. However, that doesn’t mean that marijuana is automatically legal.

According to NJ.com: “Lawmakers must still pass a bill governing the rules and regulations of the industry, and Murphy, along with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, must still name appointees to a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which will oversee the industry.”

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