Elections Outside the White House


While most of the country may have been fixated on the presidential  

election Tuesday night, political battles were also fought at the state and local level.

Incumbent Robert Menendez defeated Republican state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos in the New Jersey Senatorial race on Tuesday, garnering 58 percent of the vote. Menendez, a Democrat, reclaimed his Senate seat and will serve his second term in Congress.

In what is looked at as a big win for higher education in New Jersey, voters passed a referendum to approve the “Building Our Future Bond Act.” The bond, which will evenly distribute the sum of $750 million to public and private universities and colleges throughout the state, was OK’d by 62 percent of voters, according to NJ.com. This permits the state to borrow funds to be invested into facilities at schools around New Jersey.

Alternate Student Trustee Anthony Darakjy said the bond will be beneficial to the academic community.

“The money from the bond will be used to build new libraries or classrooms,” Darakjy said. “It won’t be used for anything that’s non-academic.”

He added that the bond will not raise taxes for residents of the state.

“It was designed to not raise taxes,” Darakjy explained, “because it’s such a long-term loan, basically, it won’t affect taxes at all.”

There is no set timetable for the distribution of the funds.

Republican Rep. Scott Garrett regained his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, beating Teaneck deputy mayor Adam Gussen, a Democrat, to win New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Ramapo College. This will be Garrett’s sixth consecutive term in office. He reaped 55 percent of the vote.

In Mahwah, Republican Bill Laforet cruised to re-election over challenger Ed Sinclair in the local mayoral race, receiving about 63 percent of the votes. He will serve his second four-year stint as head of the municipality.

These elections come on the heels of the disastrous Hurricane Sandy, which swept through the northeast and caused last-minute changes to polling stations all over the state. In Waldwick, where its five districts are usually divided among five different polling venues, voters were forced into just two this year.

Waldwick resident Chris Newell didn’t think it would cause any problems, though.

“It seems like everybody between the other station and here is getting in,” Newell said. “I would be more concerned with low voter turnout being that people are fed up with the system.”

Mark Cron, another longtime Waldwick resident, felt that state and local officials did a good job of reorganizing districts on such short notice.

“I think given the circumstances, they’ve done very well relocating the polls in a timely fashion,” Cron said.          

Despite the fact that there wasn’t much changeover in terms of who remained in office at the end of the race, New Jersey voters are looking ahead to the future and are excited about the direction the state is headed.

“I’m eager to see what these next few years have in store for us,” Cron said. “I think we’re on the right track.”

Elsewhere around the country, separate initiatives to legalize and regulate the sale and recreational use of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 were passed in both Colorado and Washington, the first states in the nation to do so. Supporters of the initiative believe it will benefit the economy, as well as save the states money on jailing adults for marijuana-related crimes. A similar initiative was shot down in Oregon.

Additionally, Maine and Maryland approved the legalization of same-sex marriage in two close races. A similar ballot measure is pending approval in Washington, and Minnesota voters rejected a referendum that would have banned same-sex marriage.