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Trenton City Council candidates Algernon Ward, left, and Jennifer Williams. (Photos: Algernon Ward and Jennifer Williams).

Trenton North Ward race exactly tied with most outstanding ballots counted

Williams, Ward both have 425 votes

By Joey Fox, December 20 2022 1:47 pm

The race for the Trenton City Council’s North Ward is exactly tied with provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots now counted; Jennifer Williams and Algernon Ward each have 425 votes.

In the initial tally, Williams was ahead by 11 votes, 401 to 390. But the late-counted votes broke in Ward’s favor, with 35 going to him and 24 going to Williams.

Six cure letters were sent out in the North Ward, so there may be a very small number of ballots left to be counted. But even if one candidate pulls into the lead, the race is likely to attract further legal action, since challenges to any one or two ballots could change the results of the election.

That could lead to problems for the reorganization of city government, which is scheduled for January 1. Only three incoming councilmembers have been definitively elected – Councilman Joe Harrison, Councilwoman-elect Teska Frisby, and Councilwoman-elect Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg, whose runoff victory was confirmed today – but the seven-seat council needs four members for a quorum.

Thanks to a snafu with the city clerk, the runoff for three at-large seats won’t be until January 24. If the North Ward race isn’t resolved soon, that would mean Gov. Phil Murphy would have to appoint at least one interim city councilmember to make a quorum possible.

Both Ward and Williams have unsuccessfully run for office in the past. Ward ran for the North Ward in 2014 and 2018, losing to Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson both times, while Williams was the Republican Assembly nominee for the 15th legislative district in 2019.

This year, Williams led Ward 33%-28% in the first round, with two other candidates finishing behind and forcing a runoff. Williams, who would be the first openly transgender municipal officeholder in New Jersey history, is white, while Ward and the two trailing candidates are all Black; the North Ward is majority-Black.

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