A quick update on what seemed like a very inconsequential off-year election. First a staffer at one of the core institutions in the U.S. 1 community has been elected to a position in state government. Andrew Zwicker, director of science education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, was running as a Democrat for New Jersey Assembly in the 16th District, a longtime Republican district. Early on election night he and his running mate appeared to be the also-rans in the razor-thin race.
But at the end of the night Zwicker moved ahead by 29 votes over the Republican incumbent. After counting provisional ballots the lead has grown to almost 80. Barring a recount that might overturn the result, Zwicker has succeeded in his second foray into elected politics. In 2014 he campaigned for the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Congressional seat being vacated by Rush Holt, who before his election occupied the same position Zwicker does now at the Plasma Physics Lab.
In an October 28 column, U.S. 1 editor Richard K. Rein wondered if a school board election in West Windsor would offer insight into the relative appeal of political outsiders. The incumbent was being challenged by an 18-year-old high school senior. Voters, many of whom were upset by recent curriculum changes imposed by the district, sent a message. Incumbent Michele Kaish won but not by the landslide one would expect. Challenger Jordon DeGroote amassed 1,696 votes, 40 percent of the total, and sent a Trump-like message to the school establishment.