A political newcomer in Ocean Township was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s nonpartisan election for five seats on the Township Council.
Margie Donlon, a physician, was the top vote-getter with 2,678 votes, or 13.76 of ballots cast. She ran on the “Advocates for Ocean” team that also included Mayor Christopher Siciliano and council members Donna Schepiga and John P. Napolitani Sr. The ticket was joined by political newcomer David Fisher, a local chiropractor.
“This unbelievably humbling and an honor – I am in shock, really,” Donlon said after the election results were in. It feels amazing and I am completely thrilled. We campaigned hard going door to door and I tried to listen to everybody and I think people heard that.”
Councilman Robert Acerra Sr., who ran on the “Ocean First” ticket , will also be reseated. He ran with newcomer Victor Ashkenazi, owner of Town and Country Jewelers in Eatontown.
The tallies at press time were: Siciliano was second with 2,463 votes, or 12.65 percent, third was newcomer Fisher with 2,425 votes, or 12.46 percent; fourth was Acerra with 2,268 votes, or 11.65 percent of votes; with Napolitani finishing fifth with 2,234 votes, or 11.48 percent.
Councilwoman Schepiga, a senior member on the council, lost her bid to be reseated, coming in sixth with 2,200 votes, or 11.30 percent; however, vote tallies may change on Friday due to absentee ballots.
Jacquelyn “Jackie” Wenzel, who has spearheaded the grassroots “Save 32 Acres” campaign to prevent development on a 32-acre site at the intersection of Deal Road and Route 35, came in seventh with 1,852 votes, or 9.52 percent. Ashkenazi placed eighth with 1,808 votes, or 9.29 percent; with former Environmental Commission Chairman Raymond Pogwist coming in last with 1,466 votes, or 7.53 percent.
Winning candidates said they will all now put any differences aside and focus on running Ocean Township.
On election night Siciliano said he called Acerra to congratulate him and that he is confident all council members will work together for the good of the township.
“There are no hard feelings. It’s not about anybody personally but how we can better serve the people of Ocean Township,” he said.
Acerra said he believed he kept his campaign “above the fray” and also thinks council members will work together for the common good.
“I will continue to serve on the council. Residents voted for five of us and those five will serve the township,” he said.
Donlon, who ran for Freeholder in 2007, said she also thinks the governing body will function well.
“I think we will move beyond the negativity and try to work in a positive way on the issues affecting Ocean Township. We will move forward,” she said.
The new council will be sworn in on July 1 but vote tallies will not be final until Friday. A new law allows mail in ballots to be received by the Board of Elections up to 48 hours after the close of polls, provided the ballot is postmarked on Election Day.
About 22.68 percent of voters cast ballots, or 4,562 ballots cast out of 20,116 registered voters.