Local voters express optimism, but expect disputes, in election's aftermath
Voters in South Jersey reflect on the 2020 election. Cherry Hill Courier-Post
TRENTON - From the State House to local shopping centers, officials and voters expressed a desire Monday to move beyond the partisan conflicts stirred by a record-breaking election.
But some also expressed doubt that reconciliation would come easily.
"Moving forward we need to come together, be kind to one another, wear our masks and stop the spread of COVID," said Melissa Ciecierski a Medford voter and supporter of President-Elect Joe Biden.
But, she also asserted, "Trump and the Republicans refusing to concede the election keeps our nation split.”
Shoppers in heavily Democratic Willingboro shared that view.
“I think it’s a welcome change from what we had with Trump,” said Jillian Lee, a township resident shopping at JFK Plaza.
“I think that the election itself was ridiculous with what he’s (Trump) saying about a recount," Lee added.
"I think we should let things be," she continued, suggesting Trump "should just go on and move out of the White House and just let Joe Biden try to handle the COVID and everything else that’s going on with the racial injustice.”
John Wadley also expressed optimism as he picked up lunch for his family at a pizza shop in the Willingboro center.
The retired law enforcement officer predicted Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris "will continue to do the work that Biden and Obama couldn’t finish."
Gianna Dininni of Sicklerville observed the wait for a winner to be declared in the presidential race was "very stressful for everyone, I think, no matter what side you were on."
"Now that the results are in, we all just need to come together and accept it for what it is," said Dininni. "Doing all the legal battles isn't going to help anyone move forward."
But, she also acknowleged, Until it's all done, there's no way we can all come together because people on one side are all happy and people on the other side still think there's a complete chance of a win."
In another example of a likely divide, Gov. Phil Murphy and a Republican congressman offered sharply different assessments of the recent voting process.
"New Jersey voters spoke in historic fashion," said Murphy, who noted the state set a record with the return of more than 4.3 million ballots..
"The vote-by-mail worked really well," said the Democratic governor, adding he'd like to add in-person early-voting in New Jersey.
"We stand for opening up democracy wherever we can, as long as it's a legitimate reason," said Murphy.
But Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a Cape May County Republican, omitted any reference to vote-by-mail in his own call for a new election system.
"I feel like I've gone back to the 1900s," Van Drew claimed in an interview on Fox News.
"We can't have an election system that works accurately, quickly and electronically?" he asked. "That's nonsense."
Cumberland County Republican Chairman Michael Testa Jr. also expressed concern over the state's voting system.
"I think anytime that you’re giving access to voters and giving them the ability to vote, that’s a great thing,” said Testa, who's also a state senator.
"My concern is that the ballots that are being mailed in are in fact legal and valid," he continued. "My position never was to disenfranchise any voter, whatsoever. It was merely to make sure that the ballots that were being received, via vote by mail, were in fact legal and valid.”
“I tell everybody we lived history,” said Cumberland County Democratic Chairman Steven Errickson, who described mail-in voting as a "learning experience."
Errickson said some version of mail-in voting is a good idea. “I don’t know where we are with coronavirus,” he said.
Michael Suleiman, Atlantic County Democratic party chairman, on Monday said he considers the hybridized mail-in ballot use a “huge success, overall.”
“Were there hiccups?” Suleiman said. “Absolutely. And we can talk about where those hiccups are and where to improve it."
Looking at 2021, Suleiman said the next primary elections could be vote-by-mail operations, as could the next general election. “We’re not going to be out of the woods yet with COVID,” he said.
At a press conference in Trenton, Murphy said he and Booker were "both anxious to begin working with President-elect Biden,"
He said the fight against the pandemic is New Jersey's most pressing issue.
“We need to take our fight against this virus out of the political arena and put it back in the scientific one, where it should have never left,” the governor said.
Murphy also expressed hope for the restoration of extended unemployment benefits for New Jerseyans and of property tax deductions for residents' federal income tax returns,
"Political season is now over," said Booker, a frequent target of President Donald Trump during the campaign.
"We should all recognize (that) we have more in common than that which divides us," he said.
"I'm hopeful for brighter days for us all," State Sen. Troy Singleton, a Burlington County Democrat, said in a telephone interview with the Courier Post Monday.
Voters in South Jersey speak about Election Day 2020. Vineland Daily Journal
The legislator said he was "elated" by Biden's win, asserting the incoming president "has demonstrated the temperament to help us move from this unprecedented and tumultuous time."
But Singleton also expressed "some disappointment" that Trump was supported by voters who "were shown some of the racism and xenophobia and sort of tension-building as it were that President Trump sort of reveled in, "
Rep, Donald Norcross, a Democrat from Camden City, celebrated Biden's victory in a statement Saturday.
"The American people have spoken and elected new leaders with the integrity, experience and strength to unite our diverse nation while fighting for Democratic priorities," he said.
Rep. Andy Kim, a Moorestown Democrat, reacted with a Tweet Sunday that showed his children holding newspapers with headlines noting Biden's victory.
"Sometimes nothing beats seeing it on paper. I don’t know about you all, but I finally woke up with a smile this morning,” Kim tweeted.
Jim Walsh is a free-range reporter who’s been roaming around South Jersey for decades. His interests include crime, the courts, economic development and being first with breaking news. Reach him at email@example.com or look for him in traffic.
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