Sharon Carmichael, a political newcomer who had the backing of the local Democratic organization, has won her party’s nomination for the Ward 3 seat on the Piscataway Township Council.
Carmichael defeated Staci Berger by 23 votes, 727 to 704, a 50.7%-49.1% margin. With about 10 ballots still uncounted – cure letters can still come in – there is no path to a Berger win.
This was Berger’s second loss. Incumbent Steven Cahn defeated her in 2018 by 156 votes, 55%-45%.
Cahn did not seek re-election after nearly 21 years as a councilman.
Three provisional ballots were tallied on Monday, with Carmichael receiving two votes and one for Berger.
A little more than half the votes were cast by mail, where Carmichael led Berger, 368 to 351.
The results might have been unintentionally affected by a Superior Court Judge who took twelve days to decide whether Berger and her slate of off-the-line candidates were entitled to recoup their legal fees after suing Nancy Pinkin, the embattled Middlesex County Clerk, to force her to hold a ballot drawing that had been abruptly cancelled at the last minute.
Judge Michael Toto ordered Pinkin to pay the $8,211 legal bill on Election Day, after it was too late for Berger to use dollars she was holding back to pay her attorney.
Carmichael is the director of Christian Education for the African Methodist Episcopal Church New Brunswick District and a longtime leader of the North Stelton AME Church in Piscataway. She has been a manager at AT&T for 22 years.
Berger is the president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, and the former political and legislative director of New Jersey Citizen Action.