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Today, November 7th, is Election Day–Update: Local Democrats Retain Their Offices

Highland Park Mayor

Elsie Foster (D) — 2,131–winner

Leora C. Wenger (R) — 450

Highland Park Borough Council

Matthew Hersh (D) — 2,081–winner

Jason Postelnik (D) — 2,065–winner

Concetta J. Bongiovanna (R) — 508

Deborah L. Israel (R) — 499

Middlesex County Board of Commissioners

Charles Tomaro (D) — 72,819

Leslie Koppel (D) — 73,294

Peter Pedro Pisar (R) — 48,390

Gary Hagopian (R) — 48,689

Today, November 7th, is Election Day. Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Find a polling place near you –go to: .https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/polling-place-search?utm_campaign=20231107_adh&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

If you are voting by mail, you have several options for returning your ballot. Select one of the following three ways:

Mail: It must be postmarked on or before 8:00 p.m. Election Day (November 7th) and be received by your county’s Board of Elections on or before 6 days after Election Day (November 13th). 

Secure Ballot Drop Box: Place it in one of your county’s secure ballot drop boxes by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day (November 7th). 

Board of Elections Office: Deliver it in person to your county’s Board of Elections Office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day (November 7th). County Election Officials–Go to:https://nj.gov/state/elections/vote-county-election-officials.shtml?utm_campaign=20231107_adh&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Middlesex County Elections Office: Board of ElectionsAddress: 26 Kennedy Boulevard, Suite B, East Brunswick, NJ 08816Office Hours: 8:30am-4:15pm, Tues: 8:00am-6:30pm732-745-3471 (FAX) 732-296-6560Website: https://www.middlesexcountynj.gov/government/departments/department-of-community-services/board-of-elections

Please keep in mind that if you have received a mail-in ballot but decide to vote in person instead, the ballot you receive at your polling place on Election Day will be a provisional ballot. If you need information about how to vote or if you are encountering any problems while voting, please call the voter hotline at 1-877-NJ-VOTER (1-877-658-6837). READ MORE

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Reminders: Time Change, Vote, Vaccines, Health Insurance Open Enrollment


Turn your clocks back one hour with the return to Eastern Standard Time at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 5th, 2023. Daylight Savings Time will return on Sunday, March 10th, 2024.  Use that extra hour to contemplate our democracy and the importance of voting. Elections have consequences. VOTE TUESDAY NOV. READ MORE

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Contribute to the Public Good and Go See ‘The Pianist’ at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick through October 22, 2023


By writing about the stage production of The Pianist, a Holocaust-themed play set in Warsaw, Poland, I am violating two of my rules of journalism:

Never review or opine on a topic or a piece of art unless I am an expert by virtue of education and/or experience. I am neither a theater critic, a Holocaust historian, or an immediate relative of anyone whose life was shattered by the Holocaust. 2. Refrain from writing about someone whom I featured within the past six months. A few weeks ago, I wrote a column for a Princeton publication about acclaimed artistic director, playwright, and longtime Princetonian Emily Mann, who directed and wrote the stage version of The Pianist now at the George Street Playhouse through October 22, 2023. READ MORE

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NJ Taxpayers Say ‘Give Us a Break – a Property Tax Break’- and We Are Getting a Substantial One

In case you missed it, here are the highlights from New Jersey Spotlight’s summary of New Jersey’s property tax breaks and rebates. JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER  for NJ Spotlight SEPTEMBER 18, 2023 

The next round of state-funded Anchor property-tax relief payments are set to show up in the mailboxes or bank accounts of more than 1 million New Jersey residents (senior citizens and non senior citizens)within weeks.   

But the extra Anchor income will not result in paying higher NJ income taxes. The money from Anchor property-tax relief benefits will not trigger higher income tax bills for homeowners receiving tax breaks worth as much as $1,750, according to the state Department of Treasury. The wait for a game changing tax breakwill be much longer for seniors who were promised by lawmakers earlier this year their property-tax bills would be cut in half.   

That won’t happen until 2026 at the earliest, under current law.  

Still, New Jersey residents ages 65 and older will find out next year when they apply for Senior Freeze property-tax relief benefits that key changes enacted earlier this year will make it easier to qualify for benefits provided through that program.  

Indeed, from the Anchor to Senior Freeze programs, to the promised program that would slash property taxes for seniors, much has changed recently when it comes to state-administered efforts to ease local property-tax bills that now average close to $9,500.  

The following is a rundown of what’s new, and what still remains just a promise in property-tax relief. 


The first round of benefits paid out under Anchor, a program Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers established last year as a successor to the Homestead Benefit, totaled from $450 for eligible renters and up to $1,500 for eligible homeowners. Earlier this year, Murphy and fellow Democrats who control both houses of the Legislature announced eligible seniors — homeowners making up to $250,000 annually and renters making up to $150,000 annually — would receive an additional $250 in the next round of benefits. READ MORE

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American Repertory Ballet Lifts its Audiences with Season Opener “Elevate” October 13-15

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) announces the opening of its  spellbinding 2023/24 season – “Elevate” – at the state-of-the-art New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), October 13-15. The program features world premieres by celebrated choreographers Stephanie Martinez and Meredith Rainey, along with the highly anticipated return of ARB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel’s rousing Wood Work, set to modern renditions of Nordic folk tunes by the Danish String Quartet. Plus, Stiefel will create a new solo set to “If I Could Only Fly” by American singer-songwriter and poet Blaze Foley. (Photo is ARB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel, photo credit Harald Schrader)  Award-winning artist Stephanie Martinez will present a new creation in which she “explores and discusses how we never truly understand our desires, but the effort is necessary to attain happiness.” Her versatility pushes the boundaries of contemporary ballet movement so much that the Chicago Tribune dubbed her “a chameleon,” of choreography. Martinez’s psychologically revelatory works challenge the viewer’s notion of what is possible. Philadelphia-based choreographer Meredith Rainey says his work “leaves space for audiences to make connections to their own personal experience and draw their own conclusions.” For his world premiere ballet titled Intrare Forma, Rainey partners with up-and-coming composer Miranda Scripp, who is currently studying composition at New York University. READ MORE

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Main Street HP Arts in the Park – Bigger and Better than Ever- Sunday, September 10, 2023

Don’t miss Arts in the Park on Sunday September 10 from 11:30 am – 4:30 pm., Highland Park’s annual arts street fair, juried art show, arts and crafts sale, and music festival in downtown Highland Park. The heat wave will be history, and the street fair is on target for making history – being the biggest in Highland Park’s history. There will be more vendors, more entertainers, more food trucks than ever before. There will be art for sale, other vendors and promotional tables, four performance stages, food, Highland Park businesses, a youth art show, and more! Free and open to all! READ MORE

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What We Are Reading

Election Picture in New Jersey


Labor Day marks the start of election season, but with New Jersey Republicans eager to try to take back control of at least one of the houses of the Legislature for the first time in two decades, campaigning in some districts is well underway. Election Day is Nov. 7. In the 16th District in central Jersey, the Democratic ticket of Sen. Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Roy Freiman and Mitchelle Drulis sent out their first general election mailer before Labor Day, proclaiming they “fight for the issues that matter most to you and your family’s future.” They also slammed their Republican challengers — Mike Pappas, in a rematch against Zwicker, and Ross Traphagen and Grace Zhang — for engaging in “extreme Trump-style politics.” 

The races in the 16th District, which was made slightly friendlier terrain for Republicans by last year’s legislative redistricting, are likely to focus on many issues that candidates will be arguing in a handful of other hotly contested races this fall: parental rights, Trumpism, abortion and tax relief. To that list, particularly in districts like Monmouth County’s 11th along the Shore — which has split party representation — add the Murphy administration’s Energy Master Plan, with wind-power development off the coast, no new gas cars to be sold after 2035 and the Board of Public Utilities’ energy incentives, characterized by the GOP as a gas-stove ban.  

“Legislative Democrats have been playing defense,” said Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University. 

Democrats are still stinging from the net loss of seven seats in 2021, including the shocking loss by then-Senate President Steve Sweeney and the assemblymen in the 3rd District. Republicans have been on offense when it comes to energy policy, from electric cars and stoves to the financial and coastal impacts of the wind industry. Republicans also think they have the Democrats on the run over the state’s lawsuits to stop parental notification policies in several school districts.   

“Democrats have even been forced to distance themselves from the Biden administration’s identification of the FAA facility in Atlantic County as a potential site to move immigrants out of New York City,” Rasmussen added. “Democratic legislators could fairly argue that most of these are the policies of other parts of government, but that won’t stop Republicans from urging voters to send Governor Murphy and President Biden a message.” 

Ben Dworkin, director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, said Democrats won’t let the GOP continue to hammer away at them unchecked. “Now that we’re entering the real fall campaign, the Democratic campaigns are going to be much more actively engaged in the messaging,” he said.  

Look beyond the numbers 

While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 1 million statewide and in three-quarters of the state’s 40 legislative districts, party leaders are worried about being vulnerable on some of the more controversial steps taken by the Murphy administration and they may have a right to be.  

Democrats are still stinging from the net loss of seven seats in 2021, including the shocking loss by then-Senate President Steve Sweeney and the assemblymen in the 3rd District in the southwest, and Gov. Phil Murphy’s relatively small victory margin for election to a second term.  

Talking about the elections

And despite their advantage in voter registration, Democrats in recent years have lost seats in three districts — Assembly seats in the 11th, as well as the 2nd and 3rd districts in South Jersey — and have been unable to take control in three others. 

Turnout in years when the state Legislature tops balloting typically is low: In 2019, the last time the Senate and Assembly led the ticket, just 27% of those who were registered, voted. 

Two recent Monmouth University polls indicate both parental rights and wind energy are issues that could help Republicans. The poll on parental rights found that more than three-quarters of people said schools should notify parents if their child wants to be identified as a different gender than is on their school registration, even as the state attorney general has gone to court to stop such notifications. READ MORE

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New State Budget of 54.3 Billion Dollars Features Big Spending Increases and Complaints about Lack of Transparency

by John Reitmeyer – NJ Spotlight June 30, 2023

Gov. Phil Murphy, just hours before the start of a new fiscal year, signed off on a new state budget that calls for another big increase in year-over-year spending. An election-year spending bill approved in both houses of the Legislature on Friday includes more money for K-12 public schools, child tax credits and senior property-tax relief, among other key initiatives. All 120 seats in a Legislature now controlled by Democrats are on the November ballot. Murphy signed the spending bill into law just after 8:30 p.m. During a State House event, he said it wouldhelp address the “affordability challenges” faced by many middle-class residents. “Everything in this budget is about growing and strengthening the middle class,” Murphy said. READ MORE

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Mayor Elsie Foster Wins Democratic Primary to be the Democratic Candidate for Mayor in the November 7, 2023 General Election.

The winner of last night’s Democratic primary election for mayor of Highland Park was Elsie Foster, the current mayor, who attracted 1,269 votes, 64 percent of the ballots cast. Her opponent, Monique Coleman, a member of the Highland Park School Board, had 707 votes, 36 percent of the ballots cast. Therefore, Foster will be on the ballot as the Democratic candidate for mayor of Highland Park in the November 7, 2023 General Election. In January, the Borough of Highland Park raised the curtain on a political drama that was inspired by the resignation of former Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler from her mayoral position on January 1, 2023. Several individuals vied for the council appointment as mayor to finish out Brill Mittler’s term. READ MORE

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Emmy Award-Winning Actress and Rutgers Alumna Sheryl Lee Ralph Encourages Rutgers Graduates to Chase Their Dreams

Sheryl Lee Ralph, an Emmy Award-winning actress, Broadway star, TV sitcom star, and one of the first women admitted to Rutgers College more than 50 years ago, encouraged members of the Class of 2023 to chase their dreams and find their voice in a passionate speech that started with her singing and taking a selfie with the crowd. “Don’t chase money. Money will come,” said Ralph who made history in 2022 when she won the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard in ABC’s hit sitcom Abbott Elementary. “Figure out what makes you happy. If you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like a job.”

Before Ralph, only the second Black woman to win that Emmy, delivered the commencement address, President Jonathan Holloway bestowed upon her an honorary degree of humane letters during the 257th Anniversary Commencement of Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS). READ MORE

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