JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Six candidates, four on the ballot, and two write-ins are vying for three spots up for grabs in the 2020 general election. In Jackson Township two three-year seats are open and one single-year seat is up for grabs after the resignation of school board member Vicki Grasso. Tara Rivera, Scott Sargent, Anthony Mero and Tzvi Herman are all listed on the ballots. Rivera, Sargent and Mero are competing for two seats and Herman is running for the seat vacated by Grasso.
Tara Rivera and Scott Sargent are the incumbents in the election. Add into the mix, at least two candidates who are mounting write-in campaigns, Mike Braun and Allison Barocas. Another resident-led write-in campaign for Jackson Police Officer John Pejoski has also been launched on Facebook, however, Pejoski has not indicated that he is running for a seat. Pejoski works as a school resource officer at Jackson Liberty High School. Voters can write in for Braun or Barocas by using the “Write-In” box on the official mail-in election ballot next to the unexpired seat they are seeking. Although the two candidates are operating official write-in campaigns, residents can actually write in anyone’s name for any of the offices listed on the ballot from President down to the school board. In Jackson, “Mickey Mouse” and a “Box of rocks: each usually garners a few write-in votes and Shore News Network editor Phil Stilton, who lives in Jackson, gets a handful of votes annually too for various positions, although unsolicited. Also in town, it has become a bit of a rivalry in recent years to see which off-ballot person in town can get the most write-in votes. Typically between 100 and 200 write-in ballots are cast in the school board election.
With the township’s council Republican ticket running unopposed, it’s typical for approximately 50% of the town’s voters to not cast a vote in that election, or come up with creative or sarcastic write-in names. Jackson Republicans are running unopposed because, in the words of Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman, Mayor Michael Reina is so powerful and successful in running the town and nobody dares to run against such a powerful, well oiled machine…or maybe it’s just because people don’t want to be sued by the Department of Justice for trying to govern the town.
This year, election officials statewide are expecting a higher than normal volume of write-in candidates with the mail-in ballot election. School board candidates are listed in a separate area from the partisan candidates for higher office.
Who are you going to vote for? Mickey Mouse? A Box of Rocks? A candidate on the line or one of the write-in candidates?
Correction: Candidate name incorrectly identified as John Braun.