Residents' Safety a Priority Over Election, Montville Candidates Say
Don Kostka and Mike O'Brien vying for single township committee seat.
As Don Kostka and Mike O'Brien hope to capture votes for a single seat on the Montville Township Committee Tuesday, both candidates said their first concern was the well-being of the people of Montville.
Republican incumbent Kostka said Tropical Storm Sandy had an effect on his last few days of campaiging as he, himself, remained without power on Monday. Kostka cancelled his plans to campaign door-to-door last weekend because of the storm. Many Montville residents have been without power for more than a week, some taking advantage of shelters set up by the township and sleeping away from their homes for several nights.
"In the scheme of things, going door-to-door is not as significant as these people putting their lives together," he said.
Kostka's challenger, O'Brien, a Democrat, also said politics, and the election in general, did not seem to be the first thing at the minds of Montville voters.
"[A voter's] mind is somewhere else now and I think to bother people at this time, to me, would be a fairly unproductive thing," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said his campaign was directly impacted after the storm forced organizers of debates between the candidates to be cancelled. He had also planned to make phone calls to voters but was no longer able, as landlines were cut off and he did not have cell phone numbers to call.
But O'Brien was confident that most voters knew who they planned to vote for before the storm and that their decisions Tuesday will reflect that.
"People probably had their minds pretty much made up," he said. "I don't think the storm is really going to make a difference."
Even with the challenges the storm has presented to the voters themselves, Kostka said he is hopeful residents are able to make it to the polls.
"I hope everybody is able to go out and vote," he said. "This election is extremely important. It's a presidential election and every single vote counts."
Kostka said his primary concern, though was how the residents were doing as "most of the people in the township were without power." O'Brien also said he is hopeful that the township employees are working as hard as they can to help all the residents who are still without power.
O'Brien said he is unsure whether the power outages will affect voter turnout.
"We don't know. All we do is speculate and we can't really speculate. We'll just see," he said.
"I'm hopeful that all the people in town are working to make things better," O'Brien said.