Fair Haven Democrats have won their first majority on the borough’s governing body in recent memory.
Nearly three weeks after voting closed, official results posted on Monmouth County Clerk’s website late Monday showed incumbent Councilman Chris Rodriguez and running mate Laline Neff won the two open council seats, displacing three-term Republican Susan Sorensen.
The final tally had Rodriguez, seeking his second term, with 2,454 votes; Neff, a first-time candidate and zoning board alternate member, with 2,207; and Sorensen with 2,152.
Early in the vote count, Rodriguez and Neff held wide margins over Sorensen. Updates throughout the pandemic-attenuated tally showed Sorensen narrowing the gap, but not enough to hold onto her seat.
“It has been my pleasure to represent and work for the residents of Fair Haven these past 9 years,” Sorensen told redbankgreen Monday.
The winners said in a joint statement that while “it’s not clear if this is the first time in boro history that Democrats have been a majority, it’s certainly noteworthy and the first time in decades.
“At the same time, just like previous governing bodies, we all have the best interests of Fair Haven taxpayers at heart and take that responsibility seriously,” Neff and Rodriguez said.
Democrats had previously said they were unaware of their party having had control of of the governing body in at least three decades.
With Meghan Chrisner-Keefe and Mike McCue joining Rodriguez on the dais last January, Democrats pulled even with the Republicans on the council, 3 to 3. When the government reorganizes via Zoom on Monday, January 4, they’ll hold a 4-2 majority; Mayor Ben Lucarelli is a Republican.
Historical trivia: The borough’s first government, seated May 27, 1912, was to have been a nonpartisan slate of candidates who billed themselves simply as the Citizens ticket, “made up equally of men of both parties,” according to an article a week earlier in the Red Bank Register.
But at the last minute, Republicans, some of whom previously “did their utmost to keep Fair Haven from having home rule” by becoming a distinct borough, decided to run their own slate, which didn’t end well. “Republicans Make Last Stand in Borough Fight and Its Candidates are Walloped by a Vote of About Three to One,” the Register reported afterward.
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