By JOHN T. WARD
Incumbent Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli, who was unchallenged on the ballot, and Councilwoman Betsy Koch retained their seats in Tuesday night’s election.
They’ll be joined on the governing body in January by their two Republican running mates, former council member Jim Banahan and newcomer Jacquie Rice, according to unofficial results from the Monmouth County Clerk.
A year ago, Koch lost a close race for a seat, but was appointed to the council just three weeks later to replace Rowland Wilhelm, who stepped down with two years remaining on his third three-year term.
Koch and Banahan, with 28 and 26 percent of Tuesday’s vote, respectively, bested Democrats Carolyn Williams (24 percent) and Cameron Spector (22), according to county figures.
Departing the council in January are Bob Marchese, who did not run after eight years on the council, and Eric Jaeger, who served two years and also didn’t seek re-election.
In the race to complete what would have been the final year of Wilhelm’s term, Rice amassed almost 53 percent of votes cast to defeat Democrat Evan Hughes, according to county figures.
Republicans will continue to hold a 5-1 council majority in 2019. Councilman Chris Rodriguez is the lone Democrat.