2010-11-25 / Front Page

O’Connor to challenge votes in S. Amboy race

Henry says it’s time for city to heal, move forward
BY JACQUELINE DURETT
BY JACQUELINE Correspondent
Arecount held Friday by the Middlesex County Board of Elections reaffirmed Fred Henry’s single-vote victory in South Amboy’s mayoral election.

The Democrat and current City Council president edged out independent candidate Mary O’Connor by a vote of 1,128-1,127 in the Nov. 2 election, prompting O’Connor to petition for a recount. That was approved on Nov. 17 and conducted Friday at the voting machine warehouse in Edison.

O’Connor said she will continue to challenge the outcome.

“The recount is just another step in the process,” she said, adding that she will be bringing further challenges before a state Superior Court judge, most likely next week. O’Connor said voting machine irregularities, poll issues and concerns about individual ballots are potential matters she would be taking before a judge.

O’Connor has asked voters who encountered any voting-related incidents to contact her, and she said some residents have been doing just that.

This week, O’Connor said, she will be reviewing the provisional and absentee ballots. She said she had hoped to do that on Friday, but that county officials told her too many people were present for the recount, and the integrity of the votes could be compromised. The only action taken at the recount was a check of the machine readouts, so O’Connor expected the reaffirmation of the current tallies.

“I was not surprised,” she said. “Whatever is on the machines is on the machines.”

She said she is unsure whether Superior Court Judge Phillip Lewis Paley, who approved the recount, would be the judge hearing the challenges.

“We’re still very optimistic,” she said, adding that to her knowledge, the court will make her challenges a priority in case a revote is needed. A new vote is a very real possibility, she said.

However, for Henry, the outcome was the end of a process that will now allow him to start planning for 2011 and beyond.

“Soon I will be setting up a transition team to help me in the adjustment of my position as mayor,” he said. “I will work with Mayor [John] O’Leary to make this change as smooth as possible.”

O’Leary did not seek re-election this year after 24 years in office.

Henry said top priorities include the 2011 municipal budget and the current projects that he wants to see through to completion.

“I think that it’s finally over,” he said. “I always had faith in the process and the people involved in making sure that every vote counted.”

In particular, he said, City Clerk Kathy Vigilante as well as County Clerk Elaine Flynn and the county elections board were integral to the process, as well the people who worked on his campaign and voted for him.

“I am very happy about the outcome,” he said. “I also want to assure the citizens of South Amboy that I will work to the best of my ability to do what is right for South Amboy.”

And part of doing what’s right, he said, is uniting voters after an especially heated campaign.

“I realize that many people voted for someone else, but I want everyone to know that I will represent all the citizens of South Amboy and not just those who voted for me. There is some healing to be done because of some of the negative comments that have been made and allegations of wrongdoing,” he said. “We need to move forward with a positive attitude and help one another to make South Amboy into a closer-knit community.”

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