Tyler_cangemiGOP council candidates John Tyler, left, and Grace Cangemi, right, meet with reporters after last night’s meeting.

By virtue of a strong showing in last year’s race, second-time council candidate John Tyler Jr. may have been the presumptive favorite to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Red Bank Councilman John Curley last month. But the choice among three Republican nominees for the spot was in the hands of the Democrats, who are seeking to hold onto or expand their 4-2 majority.

Last night, on the recommendation of Mayor Pasquale Menna, the council picked John Giannell of Pearl Street to complete Curley’s term, which expires December 31. There was no discussion of the choice among the council members, and the entire council voted in favor, including Tyler’s running mate, incumbent Grace Cangemi.

“I have known John Giannell since I’ve been in Red Bank,” she told reporters afterward. “I think he’s a fine man. He’s a good-government guy. Very fiscally responsible.”

Still, though the local GOP party submitted three names for consideration — the third was Steve Fitzpatrick — “the party’s preference, of course, was to have John Tyler,” Cangemi said. “I think it was a political decision not to give him the advantage of incumbency” going into this fall’s election, in which she and Tyler will face off against Juanita Lewis and Ed Zipprich.

Tyler appeared shocked that he’d been sidelined, telling redbankgreen that he didn’t even know there would be a vote on the nomination last night.

Otherwise, he said, “I have nothing to say right now.”

Menna denied that partisanship factored into the choice. He aid he’d sought interviews with the three GOP nominees, but “the message I got back” from local party chairman Jack Minton that all were well-known in town. So he recommended Giannell to the council as someone he personally knows and respects. Menna said he ran against and defeated Giannell in 1994.

Noting John Curley’s employment in fleet vehicle sales, Menna said “I thought it was important to replace him with somebody with business background.” Giannell is the president of New Markets Realty on Maple Avenue.

Giannell is a past local GOP chairman. He did not attend last night’s bimonthly council session.

Curley quit because he moved out of town to Middletown. He’s running for Monmouth County Freeholder.

The council race is one in which the Republicans can, at best, hold onto their two-seat minority.

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