Two veteran GOP members of the Neptune City Borough Council were defeated at the polls this week in a municipality which has not seen a Democrat elected to office in more than 20 years.
GOP Councilwomen Barbara Shafer, who has served for 22 years, and Susan Mitchell, who has served for 18 years, lost in a close election to newcomers Chris Gallagher and his running mate, Pamela Renee.
The two were elected to two, three-year terms on the council.
The last time a Democrat served on the council was in 1992.
Gallagher was the top vote-getter with 647 votes and, Renee received 633 votes, Shafer received 620 and Mitchell, 575.
Borough Administrator Mary Sapp said the count was unofficial at press time as not all the mail in and provisional votes had been counted.
Renee, a two-year resident, who works in customer service for a flooring conpany, said she was humbled and honored by the win.
“Chris and I are not politicians; we are humanaitarians,” she said in an interview after the election. “We are frustrateed with taxes. We want to see some balance and more transparency.”
Renee said she and Gallagher have been going door to door meeting and talking to residents from Labor Day through 5 p.m. on Election Day.
“We have been listening to all the people, not just haf of the people. We will still be the minority vote on the council. There is a lot more work to be done.”
She also said many residents they spoke to said they were upset with the steady increase in taxes.
The council will now include the two Democrats and five GOP members, including Mayor Robert Brown.
“We have been praying for the whole town for the best outcome and I feel very, very humbled,” Renee said.
In an unusual twist in this year’s election process neither Renee nor Gallagher submitted a petition to run in the Democratic primary. Renee was a write-in vote in June along with Mike Killeen, a former councilman. Killeen declined to run and the Democratic party chose Gallagher to run in his place.