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Dems Lead in 25th Special Election as New Jersey Voters Say ‘Yes’ To Legalized Pot, Property Tax Reductions For Veterans

Besides electing a President, a Senator and Congressional Representatives, voters got their say on if New Jersey should legalize marijuana, offer property tax relief to veterans and delay the redrawing of New Jersey’s legislative districts.

With this year’s election primarily done through vote-by-mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ballots that are postmarked on Nov. 3 can be received by county clerk’s offices through Nov. 10. Then, the county clerk has until Nov. 23 to certify the results.

But the biggest story in North Jersey politics could be developing where two Democrats lead in the 25th Legislative District special election.

With just under 50% of ballots counted in Morris County, Democrat Rupande Mehta currently leads incumbent State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) by 855 votes for the remainder of late State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, the incumbent’s father as of 3 p.m. Nov. 4. In the race for the unexpired Assembly term created by Bucco going to the Senate, Darcy Draeger leads Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25) by 2,289.

Ballot Questions

On the races decided on Nov. 3, voters approved all three ballot measures, giving the state Legislature the go-ahead to amend New Jersey’s constitution.

Public Question #1 – Legalize Marijuana 

Nearly 67% of voters (1,735,733) said yes to allowing recreational use of marijuana by people age 21 and up. The approval gives the green light for marijuana to be taxed and regulated by the same state commission that runs New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.

About 33% of voters (857,973) opposed legalization.

In an Election Night tweet, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy called the referendum’s passage “a huge step for racial and social justice and our economy.”

Although New Jersey seemed poised last year to legalize recreational marijuana use—a proposal that had support from Murphy and several Democratic lawmakers—it failed to pass and legislators agreed to put the issue before voters.

Public Question #2 – Property Tax Relief For All Veterans 

New Jerseyans gave the OK to the state extending property tax deductions to veterans who did not serve in wartime.

Seventy-six percent of voters (1,947,443) were in favor of the measure, while 23.7% (604,961) said “no.”

Currently, property tax deductions only apply to veterans who served during wartime. Now, veterans, along with their widows or widowers, who served during peacetime will receive a $250 tax deduction. Veterans who became permanently disabled during peacetime military service will get a 100% exemption.

Public Question #3 – Delayed State Legislative Redistricting 

Voters gave the state permission to postpone redrawing New Jersey’s legislative districts until after the 2021 election if this year’s census data is delayed past Feburary 2021. Nearly 60% of voters (1,461,238) voted in favor.

The need for approval is unique to New Jersey due to it having off-year elections, The approval allows legislators to run for two-year terms in their existing districts next Fall. It does not affect the redistricting of House seats, which will take place in 2021 as well.

Under the current state law, New Jersey is required to adopt a legislative redistricting plan within a month of getting its census data.

Freeholder Results

Following the election, no significant power shifts will occur to freeholder boards in North Jersey.

On many boards, voters kept incumbents in office for another term. However, in Morris County, Democrat Cary Amaro currently leads Republican incumbent freeholder Tayfun Selen in an attempt to grab a seat on the GOP-controlled board.

Following is the results of the last Freeholder elections to be held in the Garden State. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, Freeholders will be known as County Commissioners going forward. An “*” denotes an incumbent.

Bergen County Freeholder Board

Ramon M. Hache (Democratic): 201,179

Ronald Kistner (Republican): 142,364

Simone Tsigounis (Republican): 142,761

Joan M. Voss* (Democratic): 209,442

Passaic County Freeholder Board

Bruce James* (Democratic): 60,038

Theodore Best* (Democratic): 52,935

William Marsala (Republican): 40,635

Matthew Conlon (Republican): 36,847

Sussex County Freeholder Board

Robert Slockbower (Democratic): 11,315

Herbert Yardley* (Republican): 15,649

Morris County Freeholder Board

Cary Amaro (Democratic): 52,429

Tayfun Selen* (Republican): 44,177

Warren County Freeholder Board

Theresa Bender Chapman (Democratic): 14,731

Lori Ciesla (Republican): 18,946

Hudson County Freeholder Board

1st District: Democrat Kenneth Kopacz: 14,863; 2nd District: Democrat William O’Dea: 12,825; 3rd District: Democrat Jerry Walker: 19,354; 4th District: Democrat Yraida Aponte-Lipski: 15,638; 5th District: Democrat Anthony Romano: 20,619; 6th District: Democrat Fanny Cedeno: 10,159; 7th District: Democrat Caridad Rodriguez: 12,711; 8th District: Democrat Anthony Vainieri: 13,032; 9th District: Democrat Albert Cifelli: 11,825. All candidates in Hudson County ran unopposed.

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