Weber, Rubin win seats on Metuchen council

BY ENID WEISS Correspondent

The Democrats retained their majority on the Metuchen Borough Council in the Nov. 3 election. Councilman Richard Weber and Sheri-Rose Rubin won with 2,889 votes for Weber and 2,831 votes for Rubin.

Republican challenger Joe Vassallo received 2,071 votes.

Gov. Jon Corzine received 2,420 votes and eventual winner Chris Christie received 2,244 votes.

Rubin was excited as she shook hands and accepted congratulations from more than 30 friends and supporters as the Democrats gathered at Hailey’s Harp & Pub on Main Street and watched the returns reported on television.

“We were at the train station campaigning until 7:30 p.m.” Rubin said. “We feel really good. My biggest question is what do I do tomorrow? I’ve been going to the council meetings, so I know what’s going on.”

Republican challenger Joe Vassallo lost by more than 700 votes but still received more than 2,000, which made him happy.

“I did much better than I expected,” Vassallo said. “I’m very happy with the results. For a Democratic town, I did very well.”

Weber said Vassallo received roughly 500 more votes than the average Metuchen Republican candidate, something he called “the Christie effect.”

Councilman Christopher Morrison noted that considering the personal difficulties Vassallo faced during his campaign (several family members suffered severe health issues), Vassallo did well.

Vassallo said he and fellow Republicans Councilmen Christopher Morrison and William Waldron stopped in at the Democrats’ victory party at Hayley’s Pub on Main Street.

“We had been at [Main Street] Trattoria and came over to wish our congratulations,” Waldron told the Sentinel.

“Overall it’s good for Metuchen that we have a little debate,” Morrison said, referring to the split on the council of three Republicans and four Democrats (counting Mayor Thomas Vahalla).

In reference to the campaign, he said the Democrats “organized themselves very well.”

While Weber was happy to retain his seat on the council, he was more concerned with the gubernatorial race. The bulk of his friends and supporters who were gathered were talking about the contest between Gov. Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. At 9 p.m., before Christie had been declared the winner, Weber was watching the numbers on one of the restaurant’s large-screen televisions.

“Obviously I’d like to see a Democratic governor,” Weber said. He said the close gubernatorial race overshadowed the local council race. He and Rubin joked that “We were so well received locally that even the Christie voters were supportive.”

Neither Democrats nor Republicans commented on whether Corzine’s push for consolidation of government services lost him votes in Metuchen. Metuchen residents have been vocal at council and school board meetings about their strong feelings against consolidation.

Weber said, “We’ll have to wait and see how Christie is on consolidation.”