Home>Feature Right>Rain takes toll on South Orange turnout, poll workers say

South Orange Village Trustee Deborah Ford Davis. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

Rain takes toll on South Orange turnout, poll workers say

Candidates aiming to secure commuter votes

By Nikita Biryukov, May 14 2019 5:49 pm

The day’s rain appears to have taken a toll on turnout in South Orange’s village president election.

Poll workers at the First Presbyterian and Trinity Church said few voters came to cast ballots in the contest this morning, though small groups of voters trickled in throughout the day.

That’s disappointing for Village Trustee Deborah Ford Davis, who said she would like to see voters civically engaged, not just because she’s seeking to oust Village President Sheena Collum.

“I hope people are motivated to come out and support the vision that I have,” Ford Davis said.

The campaign in South Orange has not been the most civil, and two firefighters unions have joined in the contest, backing Ford Davis because of opposition to Collum’s proposal to turn village fire services over to neighboring Maplewood.

“Despite Ms. Collum’s best efforts to the contrary, South Orange firefighters have been heard clearly during this campaign,” said Eddie Donnelly, president of the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association. “No matter the outcome tonight, the FMBA will not be silent when it comes to policies that run counter to our efforts to keep the community safe.”

Collum did not respond to a call and text message seeking an interview.

The village president won her first term by more than 40 points in 2015, but it’s unclear how that support will translate after a blistering campaign that may leave some voters disaffected.

Poll workers say they expect to see a surge of voters between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. as voters who commute by train arrive in the village from New York and elsewhere.

Ford Davis is looking to secure those voters. She, her campaign manager and a small group of volunteers are canvassing the South Orange train station, hoping to win votes from those arriving there.

Collum’s campaign had also stationed a small number of campaign workers there for that same reason.

It’s not clear how effective the last-minute campaigning will be, but in a town that rarely sees more than 2,000 voters turn out for a municipal race, a handful of votes could decide the race’s winner.

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