After a strong start in most borough polling places, poll workers reported slower turnout Tuesday afternoon and evening.
District 5 had 149 of 649 registered voters show up before 2:30 p.m., and District 7 had 108 of 716 voters. By 7 p.m., though, poll workers said turnout had slowed down considerably.
The Role of the Storm
When asked what was on their minds as they headed to the polls, few Chatham Borough residents mentioned the . Those who did were not angry or livid with their comments, and did not let the storm impact their votes.
Brigitte Castonguay said she was disappointed at how the storm was handled, but not just at the local level. In her view, she said, there was a failure at multiple levels of government during the storm. Despite that, she cast her vote for Nelson Vaughan, the sitting borough mayor.
Borough resident Kelly Mitzak said she was annoyed while her power was not restored until Friday, but "I'm not complaining now." Mitzak said she, too, voted for Vaughan because overall she is pleased with the state of the borough. "Things have just been going fine, and I am happy to vote for him again," she said.
Margaret "Peggy" Collander, wife of sitting Council Member Jim Collander, said the storm would have played a bigger role in her vote if it took place the week of elections instead of the week before. "But since everything's been cleared up and it's a beautiful day, [the storm] didn't play any role in my vote," she said.
Continued Leadership, but from Who?
Council Member Len Resto said he voted for Bruce Harris, a 3-term Republican council member. "I wanted to vote for continued competent government," Resto said. He and the other remaining members of the council endorsed Harris in a
Kathy Devico cast her vote early Tuesday morning for Vaughan. She said she valued Vaughan's history in the borough and his time commitment as mayor over the past three years.
A registered Democrat, she said she "sometimes feel[s] alone" when she votes. "But it's more than that," she said. "It's his background, his dedication," she said.
Mike Richichi declined to disclosed who he voted for, but he did say his top priority was "keeping town government responsible and running well, and to keep servicing the community well."
Brenda Beebe said she planned to vote for Harris and cited his "continued leadership" and his role in approving sidewalks near Milton Avenue School as the primary reasons for her vote. "He responded to a particular need we had," she said. "Even though he couldn't vote on it because he lives on the street, he was very proactive in helping us get this done."
Beebe said her other concerns in the local election were keeping costs down.
District Elections for Township Residents
In Chatham Township, Bailey Brower, Jr. and Kathy Abbott are running for the two open seats on the committee. No other candidates are running for local elections, but township native and Mayor Nicole Hagner's name appears as a Republican candidate for the state assembly to represent the 27th district.
While resident Denise Matlaga did not disclose who she voted for, she told Patch she did vote against sports betting within New Jersey and that she was disappointed with Gov. Chris Christie's actions recently, particularly on environmental issues and during the recent storm. "I don't think enough was done," she said. "It gets you very angry with everyone that he supports."
Chatham Borough poll workers said they were experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of voters early Tuesday morning.
By 8:15 a.m., 24 out of 639 registered voters had cast ballots in District 1 at , and 35 out of 692 voters in District 3 had voted, and numbers continued to rise with the rest of the morning.
"It looks like many people got out to vote," said Resto, who voted before 8:45 a.m. at Milton. He said he was the 42nd person to vote from his district. "I've been here for school board elections where I've been number 10 or 14. Nobody votes in those, and those are probably more important for your local budget."
Districts 2 and 4 also reported a high turnout before noon Tuesday, with 87 of 691 and 78 of 639 registered voters checking in, respectively.
District 9, though, had a relatively light turnout, even considering the lower number of registered voters. By noon Tuesday, 30 of 475 voters had cast their ballots.
Township poll workers in District 6 categorized voter turnout as "moderate to low" before receiving instructions not to speak to the press until after the polls close at 8 p.m.
Chatham Patch will continue to update this story as further information becomes available.