MIDDLETOWN: FULLY REPUBLICAN AGAIN

mtown-elexAt Democratic headquarters tonight, the mood went from hopeful to somber as the Republicans won the township committee election. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Middletown Township Committee will be all-Republican come January 1, as incumbent mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and running mate Kevin Settembrino beat out Sean Byrnes, who was the committee’s only Democrat, and his running mate, Mary Mahoney, in Tuesday’s election.

By 9p, Scharfenberger was confident he and Settembrino had a safe enough lead to declare victory. That was about the same time Byrnes, who had gathered with fellow Dems at the American Legion post in Leonardo, said “it’s over.”

“Naturally I’m very pleased. I thought we ran a really strong campaign,” Scharfenberger said. “We worked very hard and we were rewarded for it.”

The results, as of 10:17p, looked like this, according to the county website:

Vote CountPercent
REP – Gerard P. SCHARFENBERGER11,69528.29%
REP – Kevin SETTEMBRINO11,58828.03%
DEM – Sean F. BYRNES9,18522.22%
DEM – Mary MAHONEY8,84721.40%
Write-In210.05%
Total41,336100.00%

Byrnes, who broke the GOP lock on the governing body with his election in 2007, said tat hwhile he’d been hopeful that he and Mahoney would come away with a win, he wasn’t surprised by the results, considering the nation’s political landscape.

“I think people are very unhappy. They want change, so they’re voting people out, and these people are my party,” he said. “When they start voting like that at the top of the ticket, it trickles down.”

Mahoney, who was a first-time challenger, said after a tumultuous budget year, which resulted in a tax increase, she was disappointed in how people voted.

“Disappointed, (because) the fact that taxes obviously weren’t that big of a deal and people, they complain about it, but they don’t do anything about it,” she said, “and I’m disappointed they’re going to give full control to a single party.”

The four candidates were vying for two seats on the five-member Township Committee. The committee members, not voters, select the townÂ’s mayor. Scharfenberger said he’s unsure who will be a front runner for the mayoral seat when it’s voted on in January.

“I’m not looking past tonight,” he said.