Yina Moore won the heated election for borough mayor by just 100 votes as the Democrats swept every Princeton Borough and Princeton Township race Tuesday night.
In the Democrat-dominated borough, Moore defeated Republican candidate Jill Jachera, 1,218 to 1,118 votes, an unofficial tally that includes absentee ballots but does not include provisional ballots.
“It has been a very active campaign season in Princeton, further complicated by the referendum decision,” Moore said. “We have before us a great opportunity. I’m glad we not only have won the battle. We won the battle and we won the war.”
Just after 9:30 p.m., Jill Jachera addressed supporters at the Nassau Inn, saying she most likely lost the election, but twas not quite ready to concede.
“I may not have been successful in my bid for mayor, we’re not 100 percent sure yet,” she said. “But I do believe that I was successful in providing a choice.”
Judy Scheide, Jachera’s campaign manager, told supporters why they were not conceding the race.
“From the numbers that are up, it looks like we’re behind,” she said. “But we’re not going to completely concede yet, because there are a lot of absentee ballots that haven’t surfaced.”
There is often a drop-off in the number of absentee ballots requested versus the number actually submitted. In the 2009 Democratic primary in which a Princeton University student was running for borough council, 399 voters requested absentee ballots, but many did not send them in.
Jachera said even if she did not win, she was happy consolidation was successful. She went to Conte’s to wish Moore well around 10 p.m.
“I think that taking a position on consolidation may have helped others in their thought process on that,” she said. “If I had any role in getting consolidation passed, I am grateful.”
Jachera said that she felt her strong showing in the polls may signify a change in the Princeton political system.
“I hope that new mayor and council will see that Princeton is asking for change, and that the mayor and council will listen and make the needed changes because Princeton deserves better than what it has now,” she said.
“Please remember that our efforts are not wasted,” she told supporters. “We have fixed the political process in Princeton, and it has been broken for a long time.”
Jachera, a lawyer and YWCA board member, is the first Republican mayoral candidate in a dozen years. The close race was a shocker to many Democrats, and caused some division among Democrats because people crossed party lines to support her.
Some Democrats, including at least one borough council member, backed her because of the position she took supporting consolidation. She was also backed by supporters of Princeton University’s arts and transit project, which is controversial because of the plan to move the Dinky station south of its existing location .
Moore, 55, a Princeton native and Princeton university graduate with a planning and transportation background, received the support of many of the members of Save the Dinky, and several Democratic leaders expressed their support for her her in recent days through editorials and letters to Democrats.
She edged out Jachera despite several unflattering stories in The Princeton Packet. The Packet and the student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, both endorsed Jachera.
Jachera had strong support from Princeton University students, especially after attending a student-organized debate at the university that Moore declined to attend. Jachera’s student campaign group “Students4Jill” also campaigned aggressively for her on campus. The night before the election, the group offered university students free ice cream at a meet and greet in the Frist student center.
Moore and the rest of the officials elected Tuesday night will serve for one year as the two Princetons transition to a consolidated community. Next November voters will select new political leaders for the united Princeton.
In the borough council race, her running mates on the Democratic ticket, Barbara Trelstad and Heather Howard, easily defeated Republican challengers Dudley Sipprelle and Peter Marks.
Howard was the top vote getter with 1,570 votes, Trelstad received 1,522 votes, Sipprelle had 652 votes, and Marks had 639 votes. Independent candidate Robert Raphael had 62 votes and there were 5 write-in votes.
In the township committee race, Democrats Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth defeated Republicans Geoff Aton and Mark Scheibner by a margin of more than two to one. Miller was the top vote getter with 3,013 votes, Nemeth had 2,957 votes, and Aton and Scheibner received 1,386 votes apiece.
“It’s a great night all around,” Princeton Community Democratic Organization Chairman Dan Preston said of the results. “We are coming together as one community.”
Rider Student Journalist Dalton Karwacki contributed to this report.