Ocean County Republicans were celebrating victories on both sides of Barnegat Bay Tuesday night, with the party solidifying its overall regional dominance despite a stinging loss in Brick Township.
On the barrier island, races are often run uncontested given the GOP’s major funding and registration advantages, however more serious challenges emerged from Democrats this year in Seaside Park. By the time the ballots were counted, however, incumbents had captured safe leads and were victorious.
Seaside Park’s mayor, John Peterson, an attorney and retired Superior Court judge, won re-election in resounding fashion. He faced Democrat Phil Nufrio, an active member of the community and a professor who holds a doctoral degree in public administration from Rutgers University. Despite both men’s impressive credentials, the race was not close – Peterson received 523 votes compared to Nufrio’s 193, enough for a 73-to-27 percent victory for the incumbent.
Seaside Park also played host to a contested race for borough council, with no incumbents running for full terms, and one incumbent running unopposed for the remainder of an unexpired term.
Republicans Joe Connor and Jerry Rotonda carried the night, with 500 and 470 votes, respectively, compared to 206 votes and 231 votes, respectively, for Democrats Thomas R. Joseph and Spadafino. Republican Bill Kraft won the unexpired term.
In Seaside Heights, incumbent mayor Anthony Vaz was re-elected, along with incumbent council member Michael Carbone. Both ran unopposed. A newcomer to the council, Robert Triano, who also ran unopposed, won the seat that had long been held by Councilwoman Agnes Polhemus, who decided to retire from government service.
Michael Graichen, a Seaside Heights resident, won a seat on the Central Regional Board of Education. Erik Hershey and Matthew Wright both retained seats on the local board of education, which is responsible for the Boyd elementary school.
Lavallette’s two incumbents, who both ran unopposed, Council President Anita Zalom and Councilman David Finter, won 543 and 524 votes, respectively.