Monday, April 27, 2015

NJ School Elections

Voters in NJ decide school boards and budgets.

NJ School Elections

Some scenes around South Jersey as voters decide school boards and budgets. More photos here.

I volunteered to shoot "early" voting before I went online to look for polling times and places throughout the three counties around Philadelphia. Maybe I didn't remember,  maybe I've just never actuallly covered a NJ school election before, but municipalities are only required to open the polls from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  They have the option to open earlier, and some do, at noon or 2 p.m. but most open at 4 p.m.  Haddonfield, which is losing all of its education aid - $1.5 million - under the govenor's proposed budget, was the only place I found that opened their polls at 7 a.m.  So I started there.

That's where I was when Ron Giordano caught up with a newfound cousin, Pattie Giordano-Sines. She was working as an election officer at the polling place inside the Lutheran Church of Our Savior and overheard Ron spelling his name out to another election worker, official Merrie Bender (seated). Pattie asked if he had any family in Magnolia (where she lives). He answered no, and besides Giordano is a common name. But when the two of them started comparing relatives, they realized their grandfathers were brothers, and they had many identical family memories.



I framed this scene, and hoped a voter would walk through it. None did. Guess it was the combination of not stepping on the grass and being too polite to walk in front of a photographer - even if he wasn't looking through the viewfinder, but just holding his prefocused camera at waist level. A few dogs out for their morning walk wandered through, and when I gave up on voters, I starting thinking one of the dogs might stop  to water the tree. That didn't happen either.

At the Washington Township High School gym, I saw something I'd never encountered before - spray painted lines 100 feet from the polling place. As a courtesy to the candidates and their leafleting supporters, election officials were kind enough to mark off the minimum distance for political campaigning, helping them all stay outside of the “no campaigning zone.”

I focused on the shadows for a while, and when I finally got a good one, wouldn't you know it, the candidate was covering up the sign. I 'd have liked to work it longer, but had to move on to other polling places.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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