Republicans Mark Taylor, left, Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer and Mike Whelan surround party chairman Sean Di Somma in celebration at the Chowda House Tuesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank Republican Chairman Sean Di Somma says he’s confident his party’s long-sought takeover of the borough council will stand up to a recount and the sorting-through of provisional ballots.
The still-uncertified vote tallies from Tueday’s election show the GOP won both open council seats to claim their first majority on the governing body in a generation Tuesday.
But with about two dozen provisional ballots yet to be counted, just four votes separate Republican Mike Whelan and three-term incumbent Democrat Mike DuPont, according the Monmouth County Clerk’s website.
Political newcomers Whelan and Mark Taylor claimed victory over DuPont and his running mate, Mike Ballard, to give the GOP a 4-2 majority for first time since 1989, more than a year before 24-year-old Whelan was born.
The county clerk’s still-unofficial tally shows Taylor dominated the election, with 1,029 votes, followed by Whelan (963), DuPont (959) and by Ballard, who conceded Tuesday evening after pulling in 925 votes.
“It is my understanding that the [county] board of elections will conduct a recount because of the tiny margin” between Whelan and DuPont, Democratic party chairman and Councilman Ed Zipprich told redbankgreen in an email.
It’s unclear when that would occur, but county officials have said they plan to account for provisional ballots on Monday.
About 700 provisional ballots from across the county need to be sorted through, spokeswoman Laura Kirkpatrick said. She did not immediately know the exact number of provisionals in Red Bank, but local officials from both parties pegged it at 23.
Di Somma said that based on historical experience, those ballots that are allowed should break about evenly in favor of the two parties, which should ensure Whelan takes the oath of office with Taylor in January.
“It’s tight, but it’s pretty clear” that Whelan won, he told redbankgreen. “I know we can claim a clear mandate for reform and change.”