Democratic Challengers Win Assembly Seats


coaster-news-200By JOSEPH SAPIA

Democrats Eric Houghtaling, a member of the Neptune Township Committee, and Joann Downey, a lawyer from Freehold Township who has never held elected office, have won the two 11th District state Assembly seats.

They defeated Republican incumbents Mary Pat Angelini of Ocean Township and Caroline Casagrande of Colts Neck Township in the Tuesday, Nov. 3, General election.

The unofficial votes were Houghtaling, 13,727; Downey, 13,452; Angelini, 13,287; and Casagrande, 13,063. The votes include machine and absentee ballot totals, but not provisional ballots.

“Eric and I are both excited about going to Trenton, helping people of the 11th District make their lives better,” said Downey, 49, a lawyer in private practice who is a former state deputy attorney general.

“I’m overjoyed,” said Houghtaling, 61, a union electrician. “We worked hard. We outworked them. We listened to the people. We talked to anyone who would listen.”

The 11th district covers Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Deal, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Neptune, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Tinton Falls and nine other towns.

Houghtaling said he believes voters are fed up with high property taxes.

“The legislators refuse to take responsibility for taxes,” Houghtaling said. “They take away our aid and that increases property taxes. But they won’t take responsibility for that.”

Houghtaling said he will resign from the committee before he is sworn in.. By law he cannot serve as a committeeman and an assemblyman.

“I like being on the committtee; we built a park, we helped residents after Sandy,” he said. “That is what I will miss.”

Downey attributed the win to her and Houghtaling hitting the streets, meeting voters.

“Going out and talking to people and, I think, people went out and voted,” Downey said.

Downey said she and Houghtaling want to stay in touch with 11th District residents as they represent them.

Angelini, 60, the chief executive officer of Preferred Behavioral Health Group, a psychiatric healthcare organization, and Casagrande, 38, a non-practicing lawyer, could not be reached for comment. Angelini and Casagrande have both been in office since 2008.

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