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Nov. 2-8: 

Election Grabs Spotlight 

Nationally, the only issue capable of pushing a surging pandemic from center stage in the news was the 2020 election. While the drama surrounding vote counting in key states kept many riveted to news updates, the local election cycle went off without incident and with results known more quickly than some suspected. 

Locally, it was a good night for incumbents, but that was not the case everywhere. While the Republican candidates on the Board of Chosen Freeholders won reelection, things also went as expected in many municipal races, with incumbents given new terms. 

That was not the case in Cape May and West Wildwood, where voters ousted the incumbent officials. 

In the face of some victories and defeats, the county remained friendly to the national and state Republican tickets. 

One closely watched public question on this year’s ballot involved the legalization of recreational marijuana. It passed by a 2-to-1 majority.  

The referendum permits the state to begin the legislative work that will allow a marijuana industry to operate in the state. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal lost no time reminding the public that it is not yet time to light up. 

Voters also approved expanding the eligibility for a property tax deduction for veterans who did not serve in combat. 

Pandemic Surges 

Whether it’s called a second wave or a resurgent first wave, the pandemic is getting dicey. The nation, state, and county are witnessing unrelenting spikes in new COVID-19 cases.  

In the last seven days, Cape May County reported 173 confirmed new cases among county residents, averaging almost 25 positive tests reported per day. 

In mid-October, the county had 69 confirmed active cases of COVID-19. That number grew to 282 Nov. 8.  

Two days prior, the county reported 31 new cases in a day. Officials continue to urge the public not to fall victim to "COVID fatigue." Maintaining discipline with respect to health protocols is, they argue, the only alternative in a vaccine’s absence. 

Another potentially disturbing trend is that the county’s long-term care facilities Nov. 5 reported 10 active cases. For the last several months, these facilities demonstrated they turned the corner on patient infections.  

The county’s daily report Oct. 9 showed no active cases in any of the facilities. As of Nov. 8, there is no reason to believe that the higher number we are seeing this week are harbingers of anything but a temporary uptick at the long-term care locations. They bear watching given the surge in community spread occurring outside their walls. 

The long-term care facilities also find themselves facing new state requirements regarding patient care, especially as they deal with isolation. 

Travelers to New Jersey are faced with a state mandate for voluntary quarantine if they come from any of 43 states and territories. 

Murphy promised coordinated testing guidance with Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Jersey. 

Local Governments Act 

In Cape May, the governing body introduced an ordinance banning the planting of listed plants and trees it describes as invasive. Officials admit the ordinance may see changes following a scheduled Dec. 1 public hearing.  

At the same meeting, the city authorized a move to sell beach tags electronically, with City Manager Jerry Inderwies Jr. saying it was time to “enter the 21st century.” 

Stone Harbor Borough Council defeated a lot grading ordinance up for second reading and adoption. The ordinance did not get the votes of the two council members who served on the committee responsible for it. 

Middle Township took advantage of new emergency funds set aside by the state to aid municipalities with new expense burdens due to the pandemic. The municipality will be seeking over $170,000 in emergency funds, thereby lessening the burden to municipal taxpayers. 

Resident input on plans for a Strathmere hotel was pushed to the next Upper Township Zoning Board meeting Dec. 10. The issue remains the subject of intense public interest. 

Wildwood Crest held a public review of options for the use of the borough’s old library site. There is not complete agreement on the governing body concerning the repurposing of the beachfront building and lot. 

In Wildwood, parishioners are upset at the liquidation of St. Ann Rectory and school, on Magnolia Avenue. While public action, once again, saved Wildwood Catholic from closing, St. Ann’s fate was sealed. 

Elsewhere in Wildwood, the city’s Board of Education agreed to pay $400,000 to settle a sexual harassment suit filed by a school custodial worker. 

Murphy signed, what state officials said is, the nation’s strongest “plastic bag ban.” Beginning in May 2022, single-use plastic bags can't be used in stores statewide. 

The hardships imposed by the pandemic create their own success stories. The Cape May County Recovery Court program announced that 30 individuals will graduate from the program in November. There will be a virtual graduation ceremony. 

And… 

A delay in obtaining necessary federal permits is pushing scheduled offshore wind farm projects out at least a year. The southern New Jersey project was expected to be online by 2023. No new date was set. 

A dead humpback whale was discovered floating near a sandbar, in Townsend’s Inlet. There is no word yet on what caused its death. 

A pre-med student turned auto mechanic, who found his way to a degree in theology, leads a bilingual ministry, in Wildwood.