By Chris Rotolo |
Democrats won a prized U.S. Senate seat, maintained command of the 6th Congressional District and took full control of the governing body in Red Bank, but had little else to celebrate in the Two River area.
Despite victories by Sen. Bob Menendez, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and the Red Bank’s Democratic ticket of Mayor Pasquale Menna, Kate Triggiano and Hazim Yassin, it was the Republicans who ruled the day in Monmouth County and the greater Two River Area, a victory heralded by county GOP chairman Shaun Golden.
Just before midnight at a podium inside the American Hotel of Freehold where Republicans had gathered to celebrate, Golden was joined by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who had successfully defended his 4th Congressional District seat against Democrat Josh Welle. According to unofficial tallies posted by the county clerk, Smith received 53 percent of the 171,100 votes cast, and Welle received 46 percent.
Also at Golden’s side were Republicans Gerard Scharfenberger and Sue Kiley, both of whom won election to the county Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Scharfenberger, who was appointed to the freeholder board in January to fill a seat vacated by Serena DiMaso, received 125,055 votes to hold off Democrat Larry Luttrell, who collected 115,365 votes in the race for a one-year unexpired term.
Kiley earned 122,165 votes to Democrat Amber Gesslein’s 108,946 votes to secure a full-term on the board. Independent candidate John P. Curley, a current freeholder seeking re-election, logged 10,943 votes.
Golden not only cited record voter turnout for the success of the freeholder candidates, but their collective efforts to inspire voters to trek to their polling stations in the face of inclement weather.
According to Golden, Scharfenberger and Kiley visited approximately 40,000 county households and made 127,000 phone calls to county residents in the past year.
“They didn’t stop walking all year, from the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March through Election Day, and because of those outreach efforts, they touched a lot of people,” said Golden in an election night interview with The Two River Times.
Scharfenberger is a Middletown resident who served as the township’s mayor six times during his service on the governing body between 2007 and 2017. Kiley is the sitting deputy mayor in Hazlet Township, where she shouldered the mayoral role in 2017.
Golden said their experience allowed the candidates to stand apart from the rest.
“We had two incredibly hardworking candidates with not only significant political experience, but significant life experience,” Golden added. “Gerry’s done a really nice job so far on the freeholder board and Sue will be a great addition, too.”
Kiley cited a return of dignity to the open seat she won as an aspect of her campaign that resonated with voters, referencing the troubles that befell the former Republican freeholder Curley, and the sexual harassment investigation that prompted the board to censure him in December.
“The fact that we can restore dignity to the seat I won tonight, and the fact that Gerry and I already work so well together, not to mention the track records that we bring with us, I think all of this added up in the eyes of the voters and helped us win the day,” Kiley said in a post-election interview with The Two River Times.
This article was first published in the Nov. 8-14, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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