By PETE WALTON
Ballots in the recent Neptune City Borough Council election will be recounted by hand on Dec. 15.
Superior Court Judge Kathleen A. Sheedy, sitting in Freehold, granted the motion for a recount filed by Republican candidates.
According to official results announced by Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon, incumbent Democrats Pamela Renee and Glen Kocsis won reelection to new terms on the council. Democrat challenger John Pietrunti finished with more votes than Republican incumbent Brian Sullivan in the race for a one-year unexpired term.
Pietrunti was sworn in to the seat when the council met on Nov. 24.
If the recount does not change the results, Democrats have regained control of borough government.
“Thank you to all the voters who voted for us,” said Renee, who served as council president in 2019. “Hopefully we will continue to earn your trust. It’s such an honor to serve.”
In a message on their Facebook page, Neptune City Democrats said they had “no concerns” that the recount would change the results and that it is “within their right” for the Republicans to request it.
“We would have done the same thing,” the Democrats noted.
Renee and Kocsis received 1349 and 1319 votes, respectively, in the race for two three-year seats on the council.
Republican challenger Rob Burr trailed Kocsis by only 15 votes with 1304. His running mate, Michaela O’Brien, placed fourth with 1262 votes.
Pietrunti beat Sullivan for the one-year seat by nine votes, 1315 to 1306.
“As this is the first statewide, majority vote by mail election held in New Jersey’s history and hundreds of thousands of ballots cast in Monmouth County alone, it is crucial elections are able to be certified without any questions or doubts,” Burr, O’Brien and Sullivan said in a joint statement. “This is even more imperative in races such as this where a mere nine and 15 votes define the outcome.”
The GOP needed to win at least one of the seats up for election this year in order to stay in control of borough government.
“This recount request seeks only to ensure that the ultimate winners of the election can be comfortable in the fact that the determination is sound and without reproach,” the Republican statement continued. “We are extremely thankful for the support received throughout this entire election and could not be more honored to have been given the opportunity to serve the community we cherish. We hope that this process offers clarity in the final outcome so that we can move forward together and work towards a great future for Neptune City as well as all of our residents.”
There are now four Democrats and two Republicans on the council. Republican Mayor Andrew Wardell’s current term runs through 2023. The term of Democrat David Calhoun ends on Dec. 31, 2021, as does the term now filled by Pietrunti.
Renee was elected to the council in 2014 and reelected three years later. She lost to Wardell in the 2019 mayoral race. Kocsis was elected in 2017. Sullivan was appointed in January to fill the vacancy created when Wardell was sworn in as mayor. The terms of Republicans Brian Thomas and Danielle Pappas continue through 2022.