Two of the incumbents running in Tuesday night's Galloway Township municipal elections were re-elected to council, while the Republican party maintained its 6-1 advantage on the seven-member council, according to unofficial results posted Tuesday night.
Incumbent Republican Tony Coppola edged incumbent Democrat Jim Gorman as the top vote-getter, and Brian Tyrrell was voted in as the newest member of council on Tuesday night, Nov. 8.
Coppola collected 3,549 votes, while Gorman garnered 3,458. Tyrrell was third with 3,407.
Democratic challenger Kevin Krumaker came in fourth, with 2,924 votes, and Democratic challenger Jim McElwee was fifth with 2,718. Former mayor Keith Hartman came in sixth with 2,424.
There were 19 write-in votes, for a total of 18,473 votes.
Coppola also garnered the most votes of anyone in June's primaries. He was nominated to fill the seat left vacant by Bill Ackerman in 2010, and ran for election last year and this year, but will now be able to settle into a four-year term.
"I consider it a vote of confidence for what I've been doing up there," Coppola said. "I'm in it for the right reasons and the people of Galloway Township have seen that.
"We focused on the issues and people responded."
Gorman felt he was elected to serve another four-year term based on his ability to work with the rest of council despite being the lone Democrat, and the fact that he hasn't politicized the issues.
He was disappointed he will have to continue to serve as the lone Democrat for now. The Republicans maintained a 6-1 edge, essentially replacing Hartman with Tyrrell.
"I was hoping we could pick up a seat or two, but the people spoke," Gorman said. "I will continue to work with the rest of council for what I think is best for the township."
"We work well with Jim Gorman," Coppola said. "The important thing is to put together a cohesive group to bring stability back to Galloway Township."
Tyrrell spent a lot of time on the campaign trail.
"I had to work really hard to get here, but we did it with a positive campaign," Tyrrell said. "I'm most proud of that. Tony helped me out a lot. There's nothing like hard work. I took it seriously. ... I talked to 1,000 residents and heard what they had to say, and I think I can serve the public better now that I have spoken to so many individuals."
Galloway Township was in District 9 for the first time this year, and that threw many residents off come Election Day.
“I might as well go to Philadelphia and vote for those people,” Smithville resident Marie DiDio said. “I put in a vote for my party because I never heard of any of these people. … We should’ve been voting for Whelan and Polistina.”
Instead, it was a State Senate race between Christpher J. Connors and Dorothy Ryan that the township found itself thrown into the middle of. Connors, the Republican incumbent, easily took the Galloway vote, 3,564-2,747.
For Assembly, it was incumbent Republican Brian E. Rumpf who was the leading vote-getter with 3,375, followed by incumbent Republican DiAnne Gove, with 3,301. Democrats Carla Kearney and Bradley Billihimer followed with 2,739 and 2,690, respectively.
DiDio said she has lived in Smithville for 18 years, and this is the first time Galloway has changed districts in the time in which she’s lived there.
“Last week I got a thing in the mail, and I didn’t see Whelan or Polistina on there,” DiDio said. “I thought they would be on the ballot when I got (to Smithville School), but they aren’t.”
Bob and Virginia Reway were disenfranchised with the negative campaigning going on in District 2, but were still a little frustrated about being forced to vote for people who don’t live in their county.
“We’re not as familiar with them,” Bob Reeway said. “I’m sorry they took Galloway and Port Republic out of the district, but that’s how it goes.”
“I didn’t vote for state senator because I didn’t know who they are,” Smithville resident Sheila Battie said. “I don’t feel like either side did a good job communicating who they are.”
“People say the redistricting confuses them, but they don’t really know who they’re voting for anyway,” said a voter who identified himself as Bob Z, adding that he voted “straight Republican.”
Some Galloway voters were influenced by the events of the summer.
Hartman garnered the most votes in the municipal election four years ago. This year, he ran an independent campaign after a falling out with the Galloway Township Republican League earlier this year, was removed from his seat on Oct. 26 after four consecutive bi-weekly council meetings over the course of eight weeks.
State and township statute states that any elected person who misses eight weeks of business is automatically removed from their position.
Hartman claims threats to his safety and the safety of his family were instrumental in his absences, and that those threats originated during a special hearing on July 18 for former Township Clerk Lisa Tilton. The township disputed that claim, and on Oct. 26, a Superior Court judge ruled Hartman had vacated his seat.
This sequence of events weighed heavily on the minds of some voters as they headed to the polls on Tuesday.
“There’s no need for it,” Smithville resident Sheila Battie said. “I voted for Keith Hartman last time, but I just lost all my faith in him.”
Battie voted for the three candidates she felt would best serve the community, which included two Democrats and one Republican.
“I have to vote for someone,” said a voter who wished to remain anonymous. “I voted mostly Republican. I didn’t vote for the mayor.”
“I voted for all new people,” Four Seasons resident Richard Schmidt said. “It’s been close to disgraceful, the leadership on this council and the dysfunctional employee situation. We lost our (CFO Jill Gougher). All her years of experience and she went by the wayside.”
He added he would like to see council adhere to a dress code.
“We are better served if we look at people who look like leaders,” Schmidt said. “They need to dress official. Our government is slipping away from us in all areas. We have people who look at themselves in the mirror and don’t recognize themselves as officials.”
Others who turned out at the polls weren’t as concerned. Their concerns included the economy, education, and for some, negative campaigning at the legislative level.
School teacher John Murray said education was the most important thing to him.
“Education is the most important thing to me, and at the state level, that means going against Chris Christie is primary,” Murray said.