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Election Guide 2012: Two Candidates Seek One Seat On Committeee

The following is a guide to the Cranford Township Committee race as well as the races for Cranford Board of Education, Union County Freeholder, NJ Senate and 7th Congressional District.

Township Committee: One seat open

Former Republican Township Commissioner Scott Mease and Democrat Thomas Hannen Jr. are both seeking election to the single seat that will be up for grabs on the Cranford Township Committee in the November election. Republican Mayor David Robinson's term is set to expire at the end of the year, but after nearly six years on the dias, he has chosen not to seek re-election.

The outcome of the November election will determine the balance of power on the Township Committee. Currently, the governing body is made up of three Republicans — Robinson and new members Andis Kalnins and Lisa Adubato, as well as two Democrats — Edward O'Malley and Kevin Campbell. If Hannen wins a spot on the committee, the Democrats will again have control of the Township Committee.

Hannen, who ran unsuccessfully alongside former Mayor Daniel Aschenbach last year, has been involved in the Flood Advisory Committee as well as several other township organizations. He has been involved in politics for several years. He spent 12 years as a councilman in Winfield, four of them as the mayor.

Hannen said the township needs to further explore the possibilities of shared services with other towns to offset some costs and streamline the workings of the township. He will also continue to join the opposition against development in the Birchwood Avenue flood zone.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Mease is a former township commissioner. He ran for Township Committee 10 years ago in 2002 and served from 2003 through 2005. He was the commissioner of Engineering and Public Works all three of his years. He later served on the township's Grievance Committee and the Town Pool Board as well as the Flood Committee.

Mease was one of several residents whose home sustained heavy damage as a result of Hurricane Irene. As a result, he has an especially strong interest in flood control efforts.

Recently, Mease announced that he was suspending his campaign.

"I decided to suspend my campaign starting on Saturday the 27th of October as the people of Cranford, and my family, were preparing for (super storm) Sandy," Mease said.

The candidate said he campaigned door-to-door on Oct. 26 and had hoped to go back after the storm passed, but the aftermath made his plans difficult.

"I hoped to go back to it after the storm passed, but with so many families with trees on their houses and with out power, I have to continue the suspension out of deference to all," Mease said.

Mease and Hannen participated in a candidates forum last month, moderated by the League of Women voters. The candidates agreed on a majority of the issues, including the need to prevent the proposed Birchwood Avenue development project from moving forward.

Board of Education: Three three-year seats; one one-year seat

In addition to the Township Committee race, Cranford residents will also be asked to cast their votes for the newest members of the Board of Education. There are three, three-year seats and one, one-year seat open on the
board. According to Business Administrator Robert Carfagno, there are four incumbents running: Catherine Morgese, Mary Venditti and Camille Widdows for the three-year term and one incumbent, Jill Brown, running for the one-year term. No other candidates filed petitions with the County Clerk for the upcoming election.

Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders: Three seats open.

Six candidates are competing for three openings on the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Candidates include:

DemocratsL Alexander Mirabella, of Fanwood, Democrat, currently serving as chairman of the Freeholder Board; Mohamed S. Jalloh, a Democrat, from Roselle, finishing up his first term; Bruce H. Bergen, of Springfield, joins the incumbents on the Democrat side;

Republicans challengers: Diane Barabas of Westfield; Stephen Kozlovich of Union; Krzysztof Chris T. Nowak of Cranford

Seventh Congressional District: One seat open

Cranford is also located in the 7th Congressional District. Locals will be choosing between incumbent U.S. Representative Leonard Lance, a Republican, and challenger Upendra Chivukula, a Democrat. It will be an uphill battle for Chivukula: Lance won his primary race against David Larsen handily. Chivukula has banded with other Asian Congressional candidates to enlist support for his campaign.

NJ Senate: One seat open

Cranford residents will also get to vote for either State Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D) in the race for one of the two U.S. Senate seats representing New Jersey — currently held by Menendez. Kyrillos has already gone on the attack against Menendez in his primary election victory speech, calling Menendez a "mediocre" senator and stating, "Our unemployment rate, our soaring national debt, our out-of-control spending—these are all getting worse because of policies that Senator Menendez supports." In a statement on primary election night, Menendez said, he looked "forward to a campaign that will focus on and discuss the differences between us in an honorable way." Kyrillos' candidacy was endorsed earlier this year by his friend and fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Polling Places

Due to safety concerns in the wake of super storm Sandy, some polling places have changed. Click here for a list of the changes.

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