Mercer Democrats hold two commissioner seats

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The New Jersey Globe projects Democrats easily maintained their 7-0 majority on the Mercer County Board of Commissioners, with incumbent Nina Melker and Lawrence adviser Cathleen Lewis winning both seats. They beat Republicans Michael Chianese and Andrew Kotola in the heavily Democratic county.

Vote tabulation in the county was halted after a programming glitch rendered optical scanners at Mercer County polls unusable. Instead, each voter fills out a ballot and drops it into the scanner’s secure storage bin.

A team of one Democrat and one Republican from the Mercer County Board of Elections collects the canisters that hold the votes throughout the day and scans them at their office.

Republicans haven’t won a countywide election in Mercer since 2000, when County Clerk Catherine DiCostanzo won her last term.

Lewis will succeed Commissioner Andrew Koontz, who did not seek re-election. She won the Democratic organizing line on the third ballot against Elvin Montero at the party convention in March by a vote of 224 to 153.

Melker won his first free run in 2018, after Anthony Verrelli resigned to succeed Reed Gusciora as the 15th District Assembly seat.

The victories of Melker and Lewis create a female-majority Board of Commissioners and, with County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello and substitute Diane Gerofsky, a county government where women hold the majority of positions.

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