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'Record Number' of Voters in Hopatcong Tuesday

Sparta also had a large turnout on Election Day despite Sandy devastation, officials say.

The hundreds of residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy didn't stop them from making it to the polls Tuesday, as Hopatcong saw a "record number" of voters, according to Borough Clerk Cathy Gleason.

Gleason said lines started forming at Hopatcong High School before 6 a.m. to cast votes, and by 3 p.m. there were over 3,000 voters, which she said was significantly higher than the last election.

"The voter turnout is really heavy," Gleason said. "People have been in and out all day."

Borough residents could either vote at the high school or Municipal Building, after Sandy caused the closure of nine other locations that the residents in the 12 districts usually vote at.

Gleason said despite the devastation that the borough has faced recently as the majority of town still remains without power, she doesn't think Election Day was impacted.

There was one minor problem with the high school's generator, Gleason said, but it was quickly fixed. The generator, which has been connected since last Monday night when the shelter opened, was turned off for maintenance work.

Gleason said borough officials brought in another generator from the Municipal Building, and they were able to get the old one to work in less than two hours.

Residents made their way to the polling locations throughout the day, many of whom still didn't have power.

Bonnie Coover had her home and cars destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last week, but made sure she was able to vote first thing Tuesday morning.

After three trees came down on her West River Styx home during the storm, Coover has been in and out of the shelter and her mother's home in Budd Lake.

Despite the hardships she has been facing in the last week, Coover wanted to make sure she got her voice heard on Tuesday, mainly to see changes in the schools.

She said she would like to see the "money being distributed more to the kids" and other changes in the school system.

In terms of the borough's response to the storm, Coover said she feels officials "did the best job that they possibly could with no power themselves and no internet access."

Borough resident Melenie Neglia has been staying in the shelter all week with her 6-week old and 4-year-old kids, and voted first thing in the morning too.

She said staying in the shelter is "something I've never experienced before."

"It's a bummer we have to do this, but other than that, it's okay," she said. "It's rough with the kids, but we're making the best of it."

Resident Marshall Speizer who came out to vote mainly for the local races, said he thinks the taxes and revitalizing the River Styx area are the most important issues to focus on.

"That whole area needs a new facelift," he said. "Just to get more businesses in town. You see business popping up, businesses going down the drain."

Over in Sparta, township officials saw similar voter turnouts as Hopatcong.

Township Clerk Mary Coe said the turnouts were "very heavy," and by 6 p.m. had nearly 1,000 votes in the largest district, District 1. Only one of the six polling locations had to be moved from Sandy impacts.

Many Sparta voters who came out to the Municipal Building said the storm didn't impact them to get there on Tuesday, because many of them got power back.

As of Saturday, Sparta Police said only 33 percent of residents didn't have power.

Resident Sean Cusomato said he got his power restored back on Mill Creek on Friday. He said the biggest issue he sees locally now is the turf field project at the high school.

Township resident Chris VanEs got her power back the same day as Cusomato on Main Street, and said she belives the township responded quickly and have been working efficiently to get the township back up and running.

"There were so many people without power, she said. "We're doing all that we can, and we're a lot better off than a lot of people."

Read all of our Hopatcong-Sparta Election coverage here.

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