Mayor Michael Reina wins re-election in contentious Jackson Township election

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Jackson Mayor Michael Reina, Councilmembers-elect Scott Sargent and Jennifer Kuhn
Jackson Mayor Michael Reina, Councilmembers-elect Scott Sargent and Jennifer Kuhn

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Incumbent Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina was victorious Tuesday night in a contentious election in Jackson Township that pitted feuding factions of the Jackson Republican Club against each other.

The main issues of the election included overdevelopment and land preservation, as both sides claimed the other side was working with forces to overdevelop and overbuild Jackson Township.

His running mates, Jennifer Kuhn and Jackson School Board member Scott Sargent were also victorious in Tuesday’s results.

Despite the contentious nature of the election, Reina thanked the community and his opponents, welcoming both to the conversation going forward in Jackson.

Reina’s team defeated incumbent councilmembers Marty Flemming, Samara Porter O’Neill and Andrew Kern. Kern and Flemming, who both were supportive of Reina in past elections and vice-versa, blamed Reina for overdevelopment in Jackson and for a ‘lack of leadership’.

“On behalf of myself, Jennifer and Scott, thank you to the residents of Jackson for placing your faith in our vision for Moving Jackson Forward. This morning we took stock in the job at hand and we truly look forward to working FOR the people over the next four years,” Reina said Wednesday morning. “To Marty, Andy, and Samara, congratulations on a hard-fought race. In the end, even though we may differ on how best to achieve them, we are all residents of Jackson, and we share many common goals. In the coming months, we hope that you will remain engaged.”

The Flemming campaign did not issue a public statement and has yet to concede the election as a ticket publicly.

Reina touted his plan to preserve a farm at 443 Leesville Road as one of his accomplishments and said work is not yet done to continue preserving open space. This month, Reina vetoed an open space purchase recommended by the council using cash from the township’s open space fund.

Instead, Reina wants to use that cash to start bonding even more land purchases going forward to protect more properties from falling to developers.

“Promises made, promises kept was not just a slogan, and we’re ready to hit the ground running,” Reina said. “To that end, I intend to be at the next council meeting to push for the completion of the land swap that will leave 443 Leesville Rd. in pristine condition, and I will be announcing the formation of the Jackson Open Space Preservation Committee. Please join us all there.”

Reina’s victory also seals the fate of rogue Republican leaders Clara Glory and Todd Porter, who ran the ticket against Reina. Porter will likely not be re-elected president of the Jackson Republican Club and Glory will remain simply a figurehead in name only with the local Republican party until her current term as Municipal GOP Chairwoman expires.

Reina defeated hardware store owner Marty Flemming 9,254 votes to 8,165.

On the council side, Jennifer Kuhn received the most votes with 9,028, followed by Sargent with 8,696. Samara O’Neill received 7,790 votes and former Reina running mate Andrew Kern received 7,747 votes.