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Jennifer Williams. (Photo: Jennifer Williams).

Williams wins by 1 vote in Trenton runoff

By David Wildstein, December 29 2022 11:51 am

Jennifer Williams has won a seat on the Trenton City Council after a count of three cured vote-by-mail ballots gave her a one-vote victory over Algernon Ward, Jr. in a runoff for the North Ward seat.

Williams and Ward had been tied, 425 to 425, until three new mail-in ballots where voters cured  technical deficiencies were counted this morning.  William picked up two votes and Ward added one vote, giving her a 427 to 426 win.

The resuts must be certified by the Trenton City Clerk no later than tomorrow, which will allow Williams to be sworn in as the new city councilwoman on January 1.

But the one-vote margin will likely mean a recount bid by Ward or a possible legal challenge to the election results.  If Williams is blocked from taking the oath of office, there would be no quorum for the city council and Gov. Phil Murphy would be forced to appoint four new councilmembers to serve temporarily.

Three at-large council seats remain up for grabs in a court-ordered January 24 runoff election.

The Trenton Republican municipal chair, Williams becomes the first transgender person to win a city council seat in New Jersey.

After a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters in New Jersey, county election officials are required to give voters an opportunity to cure technical defects in vote-by-mail ballots.  The deadline was 4:30 PM yesterday.

In the November 8 general election, Williams led Ward by 93 votes, 583 to 490 (32.9% to 26.6%) in a four-candidate field.  The other two candidates, Merkle Cherry and Divine Allah, endorsed Ward.

The North Wad incumbent, Marge Caldwell-Wilson, did not seek re-election and endorsed Williams.

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