By Chris Rotolo ||
RED BANK – Red Bank Democrats are now in full control of borough government following Tuesday’s sweep that saw Democratic Mayor Pasquale Menna easily re-elected to another term and the election of two Democratic newcomers to the Borough Council.
According to tallies posted by the county clerk’s office, incumbent Democratic Mayor Pasquale Menna, with 59 percent of the 3,979 votes cast, defeated Republican challenger Pearl Lee, who had 41 percent.
Democrat Katherine Triggiano won a seat on the Borough Council with 30 percent of the 7,762 votes and Hazim Yassin took the other seat with 28 percent. Republican Allison Gregory garnered 19 percent of the vote and Michael Clancy had 17 percent. Independent Suzanne Viscomi had 6 percent.
“You pound pavement, you meet people, you prove to them character, and nothing can tear that down,” said Triggiano, moments after the tallies were announced at a victory party on Rector Street Tuesday night. She said there were “multiple variables” to why their team won, but knocking on doors since May and letting people get to know what they stood for helped the candidates gain voter trust. Triggiano and Yassin will replace Republican councilmen Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan in January when all seven members of the council will be Democrats.
In many other traditionally Republican peninsula towns, Democrats lost in this historic midterm election. Menna believes the heightened interest in Tuesday’s election was mostly based on a “nationwide current that impacts us all,” though he mused Red Bank’s energy, inclusiveness and voice could have played a role in inspiring new candidate outsiders to enter local politics.
“People in some of the other towns, who at times have felt isolated, now sense that there is visibility, that there’s visibility in their own neighborhoods and right next door (in Red Bank),” Menna said. “We’re not afraid of these changes because we think it’ll make us a stronger community.”
In Sea Bright, Democrat Marc Leckstein won 37 percent of the 1,115 votes cast, and will rejoin the governing body with Republican William J. Keeler, who won 32 percent of the vote. In Atlantic Highlands, Democrat Roy Dellosso and Republican James Murphy both won 26 percent of the 4,242 votes cast for a full term, and Democrat Lori Hohenleitner squeaked by Kimberly Spatola with 28 more votes for a two-year unexpired term.
In Rumson, a hard-fought campaign by Democrats Sarah Orsay and Marnie Doherty for seats on the all-Republican Rumson Borough Council fell short. Republicans have had control of the council for many years and have not faced serious challenges.
Republican Mark Rubin received 27 percent of the 6,636 votes cast and running mate John Conklin received 28 percent. Democrat Sarah Orsay collected 23 percent and her running mate Marnie Doherty received 22 percent.
Though they lost, Orsay and Doherty said the results don’t tell the entire story. Orsay said she is convinced the foundation has been set for more interesting races to come, featuring candidates on both sides of the column with the best intentions for the borough in mind.
“We’re one day removed from the election and we absolutely feel that momentum,” Orsay said. “We’re not ready to say that it will be us running again, but our intention of giving people a real choice was a goal that we’re proud to have accomplished and we believe it should open the door for others like us.”
“We hope it opens the door for good people to get involved,” Doherty added. “We have friends that are both Republicans and Democrats who saw what we were able to do and are now expressing interest in running. We think it’s fantastic. More than anything we want the people of Rumson to have a choice, not between parties, but individuals who want what’s best for a community that is more diverse than it’s given credit for.”
Republican candidates also prevailed in Fair Haven, Middletown, Holmdel, Little Silver and Shrewsbury.
This article was first published in the Nov. 8-14, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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