Byram residents return mayor to office

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    BYRAM-Voters decided to give Byram Mayor Eskil "Skip" Danielson another term in office, in an election where his only challenger was a last-minute run by write-in candidate Scott Olson. Danielson, director of the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management, received 521 votes compared to 167 cast for write-in candidates, according to unofficial results from the Sussex County Board of Elections. But turnout was exceptionally low, with all votes cast representing only about 13 percent of the township's 5,250 registered voters. Danielson attributed the low turnout to a "clandestine" 11th-hour campaign by Olson, who had questioned the mayor's leadership over the past two years. "A lot of people didn't even know there was a contest," said Danielson. "It's a shame some people didn't know." Still, he said he feels "very good" about the results. "I'm thankful the voters were able to see the realities for Byram and come out and support my campaign," he said. Danielson was running unopposed until last week, when Olson, an environmental activist, entered the non-partisan race. Incumbent James Oscovitch, who ran unopposed for a four-year seat on the council, received 575 votes, compared to 32 ballots cast for write-in candidates, according to the election board. Danielson said his victory was a mandate from the voters for improvements to Route 206, a much-debated plan that calls for widening a 1.2-mile stretch of roadway between Acorn Street and Lackawanna Drive [see related story on page 1]. "The state is doing everything within its right-of-way," said Danielson. "The best that we can do, from a Byram standpoint, is to take part in a collaborative effort to bring about the best solutions." Olson, a self-employed graphic designer who ran his word-of-mouth campaign primarily over the Internet, said he was pleased despite the defeat. "Eight days with no money to campaign and 20 percent of the vote, I don't think I could ask for more," he said. "The whole point was to try and get people involved. This is a step in the right direction." In Byram, the mayor and all council members are elected at-large in non-partisan elections for four-year staggered terms. Elected officials enter office on July 1 of the election year. Danielson had filled the seat vacated in November 2002 by former Mayor Charles Vitale. Since taking office, Danielson oversaw a number of professional appointments, including township manager, and improvements to recreational facilities, most notably C.O. Johnson Park. He cited development of a master plan that includes a designated town center as achievements during his short tenure. Danielson, who sits on the New Jersey Conferences of Mayors, said he will continue to explore property tax relief for residents in a second term. He said he is is proud that volunteerism has increased in Byram, particularly in emergency services, despite the increased economic demands that are forcing many families to take on extra jobs. Danielson holds a bachelor's degree in government public administration and two masters' degrees in criminal justice. He has served on both the Lenape Valley Regional High School and Byram boards of education, is a former two-term charter study commissioner, a former chief of police, and a current emergency squad member in town.