AREA — Besides the races for the state legislature and county commission, next Tuesday’s election will also let voters weigh in on a controversial synthetic turf project in Scotch Plains, a handful of races that could alter control of the borough council in Garwood, how many votes Fanwood Democrats running unopposed will receive and who to send to the Clark board of education.
The referendum in Scotch Plains centers on whether to repeal a $3.8 million capital bond ordinance that includes funding for the installation of artificial turf at the Brookside Park baseball field. After the township council approved the bond in April, a petition effort quickly gained more the required number of signatures to put the question on the ballot.
Opponents of the turf plan have raised concerns about the impact of the turf on the park’s environment, the potential for dangerously high temperatures on the turf field during the summer months, the increased potential for injuries and the overall impact of synthetic turf on the 23acre park itself. Proponents, including the youth baseball and soccer leagues and parents of the players, say that a turf field will expand playing times and opportunities. Next week’s referendum will be the township’s first since 1999 when voters approved having the mayor elected directly by voters and approved the creation of an open-space trust fund.
In Garwood, Democrats currently control the council by a 4-to-2 margin, but three seats — two of which are currently held by Democrats — are up for grabs next week. Democratic incumbent Vincent Kearney is seeking a second three-year term while his running-mate, Karina Boto, is seeking to fill the seat of Democrat Russell Graham, the current council president, who is not seeking another term. They will face Republicans ShannonAnwander and Michele Capobianco. Meanwhile, Republican incumbent Rachel Herz, who was appointed to fill a council vacancy last December, is seeking election to fill out the rest of the unexpired term and is opposed by Democrat Sean Keagan Foley. Among the issues raised during the campaign were flood mitigation on South Avenue, municipal spending and the future of the borough library, which has been housed at Lincoln Elementary School since 1979.
In Fanwood, there will be no Republicans on the local ballot next week. Democratic Mayor Colleen Mahr is seeking — and will win — a sixth four-year term, while her running- mates, Council President Jeffrey Banks and CouncilmanAnthony Carter, also will win fresh three-year terms, ensuring the Democrats’ unanimous control of the borough council, which last saw a Republican member a decade ago.
Ms. Mahr’s mayoral tenure is exceeded in Union County only by Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage, who was first elected in 1992 and has won re-election every four years since then, and Sal Bonaccorso, who has served as mayor of Clark since 2000. Ms. Mahr won her second, fourth and fifth terms in 2007, 2015 and 2019 without any opposition.
In Clark, the races for board of education will see incumbents Steven Donkersloot, the board’s president, along with Robert Brede and Megan Harrison, seeking re-election, while newcomer Rob Curry-Patel is seeking to fill one of those seats.