Republicans, as Usual, Dominate Voting in Ocean County

STEP RIGHT UP: Ocean County reported 4,527 ballots counted Tuesday for Long Beach Township, but those were all mailed in previously. The town hall poll appeared rather quiet.(Photo by Ryan Morrill)
It wasn’t a surprise that the first election results on Tuesday evening showed GOP candidates had huge leads in Ocean County for both federal and county-wide seats.
About 62 percent of the county’s 442,976 voters mailed their ballots ahead of Nov. 3 – those were the only results available at press time, 10:45 p.m. Tuesday; in-person vote reporting was delayed more than any year in recent history.
Donald Trump had racked up 166,591 votes to Joe Biden’s 99,711.
Republican Rikin “Rik” Mehta was far ahead of incumbent Democrat Cory Booker, 160,226 to 96,315, for a U.S. Senate seat, even though the networks had already called the race statewide for Booker.
Incumbent Jeff Van Drew led Democrat Amy Kennedy 12,887 to 8,198 in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District but remember, that district includes all or part of eight counties.
Republican challenger David Richter was ahead of Democratic incumbent Andy Kim, 82,917 to 63,539 in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional race, but that district is shared with Democratic-leaning Burlington County.
Current Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella was crushing Democrat Kathy M. Russell, 166,776 to 92,215.
Longtime Freeholder Joe Vicari was far ahead of Democrat Helen Dela Cruz, 164,334 to 92,322.
So, Ocean County remains rock solid Republican, as it has been for decades.
The Ocean County website, which tracks the polls, clarifies, “The results provided on this site are all unofficial. As per N.J. state law for this election, vote-by-mail ballots will continue to be counted after Election Day, as the deadline for receipt of vote-by-mail ballots postmarked no later than Nov. 3, 2020, is 8 p.m. Nov. 10, 2020. As such, additional results will be posted on a periodic basis.”
Election results will be updated at as they become available.
Here is a summary of Election Day incomplete results from voters in The SandPaper’s readership area.
Barnegat Township
Republican Township Committeeman Alfonso Cirulli and running mate Joseph Marte were leading.
Cirulli led all vote-getters with 7,201, while Marte, a newcomer, received 7,128.
Democrats Peg Houle and running mate Charles Cunliffe received 5,708 and 4,886 votes, respectively. Houle ran unsuccessfully last year. Cunliffe is a former mayor of Lakewood Township.
Cirulli served on the committee from 2004 to 2012, and returned in late 2015 when he was appointed to replace Martin Lisella, who left his committee seat to become township administrator. He had to run for the remaining year on Lisella’s term in 2016 and then won a three-year term the following year.
“I see another good year for Barnegat,” said Cirulli, confident of victory Tuesday night. “We’re looking to break ground for the new town hall by Dec. 1. We’ll continue to take care of our infrastructure and give the residents what they need.”
Barnegat School Board
Two newcomers and an incumbent were leading for three-year terms on the Barnegat Township Board of Education.
Alicia Bivins and Sandra Churney, who ran on “The Next Voice” ticket, had 4,329 and 3,792 votes, respectively. Incumbent Doreen Continanza, who was seeking her second term and ran on “The Brighter Future ticket, finished with 3,907 votes.
Christopher Sharpe, who also ran on “The Next Voice” slate, received 3,584 votes while George Fedorczyk Jr., who ran solo as “Progress For Education,” was next with 3,485. Fedorczyk also ran unsuccessfully last year.
Rounding out the field were board vice president Robert Geddes and newcomer Justin Deemer, with 3,268 and 2,552 votes, respectively. They also were on “The Brighter Future” ticket.
Maria Pereira declined to seek a third term on the nine-member board.
Barnegat Light
Republican incumbents Dorothy Reynolds and Mary Ellen Foley were re-elected unopposed for three-year terms on the borough council.
Beach Haven
Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis appeared to gain re-election to the borough council in a race that also saw two newcomers win four year-terms on the five-member panel.
Colleen Lambert led all vote-getters with 431, followed by Davis with 311 and Kristin Rutherford with 302. Rounding out the race were newcomers Genevieve Cunningham with 260 votes, Robert Scott Cunningham (no relation) with 180 and Laura Polascak with 153.
Incumbents Charles E. Maschal Jr. and Thomas Lynch declined re-election.
Davis was first elected to the council when it changed to its current form of government in 2010. She has been mayor for the past six years.
“This is certainly going to be very challenging, but I’m excited about doing good things for Beach Haven,” said Lambert, expecting the results to stand. “I’m going to give it my best, and I’m looking forward to working with the other council members.”
Beach Haven School Board
Meredith O’Donnell and Jennifer Tomlinson were elected unopposed for three-year terms.
Eagleswood Township
Republican incumbent Nicholas Sommaripa was re-elected unopposed for a three-year term on the township committee.
Eagleswood School Board
Isabella Pharo and Steven Halford were elected unopposed for three-year terms.
Little Egg Harbor Township
Republican incumbents Ray Gormley and John Kehm appear to have retained their committee seats: Gormley for his ninth three-year term and Kehm for his sixth term. Democratic challengers Shaun Moran and Gabriel Brian Franco trailed by a 2-to-1 margin.
Gormley and Kehm ran on their achievements over the course of their public service, most recently the ability to pass dredging assessments and clear the township’s many lagoons of mud (a process that is ongoing) and establishing a veterans park.
Moran and Franco ran on the platform of transparency and professionalism in government, and breaking the one-party blockade. During a SandPaper interview in September, Moran and Franco said whatever the result of the election, they would continue to strengthen the Democratic Party in the township.
The preliminary numbers gleaned by press time were Gormley, 6,250; Kehm, 6,072; Franco, 3,596; Moran, 3,625. There were 20 write-in votes.
LEHT School Board
One seat was up for grabs on the Little Egg Harbor School District BOE. Lisa Semler had the early lead over Danielle Kelly, 3,753 to 3,315, before Tuesday poll results were available.
Long Beach Township
Non-partisan incumbents Joseph Mancini, Ralph Bayard and Joseph Lattanzi were re-elected unopposed.
Long Beach Township has been governed under the Walsh Act form of New Jersey municipal government, with a three-member commission, since 1936. Commissioners are elected to serve four-year terms on a concurrent basis in nonpartisan elections. The board of commissioners passed an ordinance in February 2011 shifting the nonpartisan elections from May to November, beginning with the November 2012 election.
Long Beach Island
School Board
As of press time, with only the mail-in ballots tallied, Danielle R.W. Hagler was ahead of incumbent Georgene M. Hartmann by a count of 849 to 561 votes for a Long Beach Township seat on the Long Beach Island Consolidated Board of Education.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Chung, Ship Bottom, and Kelly Linkewich, Surf City, ran unopposed to represent their towns.
The school board is comprised of nine members – four from Long Beach Township; two from Surf City; and one each from Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars and Ship Bottom – who serve terms of three years before facing reelection.
In addition to navigating the coronavirus pandemic, members of the board will continue to work toward a decision on whether to consolidate the district into one school building. Currently, pre-kindergarten through second grade attend the Ethel A. Jacobsen School in Surf City, while third  through sixth grade is housed in the LBI Grade School in Ship Bottom.
Pinelands Regional
School Board
As The SandPaper went to press on Tuesday evening, only the first results of the hard-fought race among four candidates for two spots on the Pinelands Regional Board of Education representing Little Egg Harbor Township had been posted on the Ocean County Clerk’s website. They were all early vote-by-mail ballots that had been counted in the 10 days proceeding Election Day. No results for provisional or machine votes had been posted.
That said, newcomer Raymond W. Bartlett was the leader with 3,830 votes. Incumbent Christie Palladino was in second with 3,523 votes, followed by two other new candidates, Maddalena Schemichen with 3,018 and Laura Erber with 2,751.
Two candidates were vying for the lone seat representing Tuckerton on the PRSD board. Incumbent Kim Hanadel had earned 576 votes while newcomer Randall Moody had 367, pending a vote update for the polls.
Ship Bottom
Republican incumbents Edward English and David Hartman were re-elected unopposed for three-year terms on the borough council.
Southern Regional
School Board
Nothing is changing on the Southern Regional Board of Education. Beach Haven representative Stuart Snyder, along with Stafford representatives Thomas Serpico and Heather Tatur, currently the board president and vice president, ran unopposed.
Stafford School Board
The Stafford Township Board of Education appears to have at least one new member come January, and possibly another new one if the early margins from Nov. 3 hold up.
Erin Sharkey was the only individual officially on the ballot for the unexpired one-year term left over from the departure of former board member Kevin Lyons Jr. and fulfilled for the past year by Kathleen Pierson, who opted not to seek election to remain on the board after being appointed last year. Sharkey had 8,602 votes at press time, compared to 116 for write-ins.
As for the trio of three-year seats available and seven candidates in the running, it appears retired Stafford Township Community Policing Officer Christopher Fritz is headed for his first term on the school board. At press time, Fritz led the field with 6,362 votes, while the next nearest candidate was “Community Together Wins” running mate and incumbent Deborah M. Lyons with 5,673 votes, followed by incumbent Patricia Formica with 4,580 votes.
With plenty of votes seemingly left to count beyond Election Day, the larger question looming is whether incumbent Gerald Simonelli will be able to reclaim his seat. At press time, he trailed Formica with 4,265 votes – a 315-vote difference. Formica’s “Accountability and Transparency” running mates, James Curcio and Gregory Guido, sat behind Simonelli with 3,331 and 2,904 votes, respectively. Kenneth Budinski had 1,890 votes, while write-in votes totaled 101.
Surf City
Republican incumbents William Hodgson and John Hadash were re-elected unopposed for three-year terms on the borough council.
The borough council election was not contested, but two council members, Brian Martin and Suzanne Taylor, had been appointed by the mayor and were required to run for election. Both were voted in. Incumbent Councilman Keith Vreeland also was re-elected. 
Tuckerton School Board
David Colapietro was the only candidate on the ballot for two open seats of three-year terms. A second candidate may emerge, based on 43 write-in votes for which no other information was available.
Ocean County Freeholder
When 259,500 mail-in ballot results were announced soon after 8 p.m., Republican incumbent Joseph Vicari was coasting to victory with 63 percent of the vote, surpassing Democrat Helen Dela Cruz (34 percent) and independent Dan Valentine (1 percent). Vicari, on the freeholder board since 1981, was elected to his 14th three-year term. He is director of senior services and county operations, with varied responsibilities including liaison to Ocean County College, the county library, the vocational technical schools and the Tourism and Business Development Advisory Council.
Ocean County Clerk
Scott Colabella, the Republican incumbent, was re-elected with 64 percent of the vote, even though Democrat Kathy Russell collected 92,000 mail-in votes before Tuesday poll results were counted. Colabella’s most prominent challenge has been oversight of election services in this contentious U.S. presidential election year during a pandemic.
Ocean County voters also supported two of the three state referendum questions. Early mail-in ballots favored marijuana recreation use (and farming and sales) for age 21 and above, by a vote of 148,000 to 103,000.
An extra $250 property tax deduction for peace-time veterans service was favored by mail-ins, 183,000 to 63,000.
The third referendum – delaying legislative district revisions in 2021 to await census data – had 123,000 no votes to 113,000 yes.
Among Ocean County’s 442,976 registered voters (nearly 31,000 more than last year), 273,000 residents mailed in ballots, which, according to post-Election Day receipt deadlines, in many cases may yet decide some low-vote, municipal or school board elections.
The in-person voting Tuesday remained to be tabulated and reported.
— Neal Roberts with staff reports

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