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Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy Overshadows Election Results

Re-elected incumbents express thanks to constituents

Although distracted by the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the township, Lacey’s incumbents, who retained all contested seats, expressed thanks to their supporters following Election Day.

“I’m very proud,” said Mayor Mark Dykoff.

Dykoff and Committeeman Gary Quinn each earned three-year terms after fending off a challenge from Democratic newcomer Shawn Judson. Quinn picked up 7,783 votes or 39 percent while Dykoff received 7,568 votes or 38 percent of the votes. Judson got 4,389 votes or 22 percent.

“It didn’t even feel like we had an election,” Dykoff said.

Dykoff has been busy dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he said.

“That’s really our concern. I really haven’t had the time to think about (elections). I’m honored that the residents allowed me to serve another term again,” he said.

Moving forward, now that he was re-elected, Dykoff said the township’s first priority is rebuilding after the storm.

“Our first priority is to get through this and rebuild those areas that were decimated,” he said.

Next is to work with the township committee to “bring prosperity back to Lacey Township,” he said.

Sandy has made the already struggling economy more difficult, he said.

“I think for the most part, people are very happy with the direction the township is going and believe we will continue to bring them in the right direction,” he said.

Committeeman Gary Quinn, who was also re-elected for a fourth term, agreed and said he was “happy” with the results.

“When you go through an election, it’s a report card on how the community rates what you’ve been doing the last three years,” he said, adding that he’s been fortunate to have community support.

Opponent Shawn Judson has a “bright future,” he said.

“Shawn Judson is a nice woman…I don’t think she had the opportunity to get her message out and for people to get to know her,” he said.

Judson received 22 percent of the votes.

“You feel good about it,” he said. “As you’re going through the process, some people may like what you’re doing, some may not. You’re running on your record as an incumbent. We were re-elected because we’re doing a great job.

“But it’s a hard thing to deal with because so many people are devastated right now,” Quinn said of the election results and those who have been impacted by Sandy.

“Immediately, we just have to try and help all the folks who have been displaced and had so much damage to their homes,” he said. Waterfront communities in Lacey have been “devastated.”

FEMA will be setting an office up in town, Quinn said.

“Once we get that under control a little more and everyone is back with power and there is more normalcy in town, we have business to continue,” he said.

The township has to prepare for “another difficult year and another difficult budget,” he said. The township will continue to reorganize departments and pursue shared services.

The police department and emergency services are another area that needs to be a priority, he said.

“They’re on the frontline. They really put their heart and souls and lives on the line for the people of this town,” he said. “That has to be a priority. This storm was unfortunately a wake up call for us.”

Unfortunately, the township hasn’t received much outside help, he said. The Red Cross focuses on more central locations.

“We have to become more self sufficient as a municipality. We’re getting more and more of these storms…we have to worry about our residents and only our residents,” he said.

Judson thanked all those who supported her.

“I think I did rather well being that I ran by myself, I was unknown, new to the whole thing,” she said. “The hurricane didn’t help. It interrupted everything.”

Judson extended congratulations to Dykoff and Quinn.

“It is what it is. The township will move on,” she said. “Maybe there will be a next time. We’ll see.”

Once Sandy hit, Judson’s focus also shifted from elections, she said, working 16-hour days daily for JCP&L.

“Our hearts go out to everybody,” she said, adding that customers have been gracious. “In past storms, within three days, they always wanted to kill us.”

Now, people who have nothing left are offering JCP&L workers coffee, water and food and thanking them.

“I’m amazed by it. All of us out there working are doing the best we can,” she said.

Voters also elected current school board Vice President Eric Schubiger and incumbent Maureen Tirella to new terms on the Board of Education in a close race over resident Regina Discenza. 

Schubiger picked up 5,602 votes or 37 percent and Tirella got 4,820 votes or 32 percent. Discenza, who has been on the ballot for at least eight years, lost to Tirella by just 2 percent. Discenza received 4,576 votes or 30 percent.

Tirella wondered if the results are premature, she said. Tirella led Discenza by just 2 percent, re-electing her for a second term.

“I’m grateful for everyone who came out and voted for me,” she said. “Our town, like many of the towns in the area, was hit (by Sandy) hard. People have their priorities to get their lives back together, which I understand.”

Voting in New Jersey for mail-in ballots by fax or e-mail has been extended to Friday and provisional and absentee ballots won’t be counted until Wednesday, Nov. 21.

“I hope that the clerk results stand so I can continue to do the work that I’ve been doing the last four years,” she said.

The focus will be on offering kindergarten to the whole district, improving the drop out rate and increasing student achievement, she said.

“I just thought the results were really, really interesting,” Discenza said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The additional mail-in ballots most likely won’t make a difference in the results, Discenza said.

“It’s what I expect. I don’t really expect anything different from that after all these years. It’s hard to break the machine,” she said of all incumbents being re-elected. “I wish some other people would run.”

Schubiger was not immediately available for comment.

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