Carney, Henderson win GOP primary

SUSSEX COUNTY. Incumbent Chris Carney and Lafayette Mayor Alan Henderson are the Republican nominees for two seats on the Sussex County Board of County Commissioners.

| 11 Jun 2024 | 11:22

Incumbent Chris Carney and Lafayette Mayor Alan Henderson came out on top in the June 4 Republican primary for two seats on the Sussex County Board of County Commissioners.

According to unofficial results compiled by the Sussex County Clerk’s Office, Carney received 8,471 votes and Henderson had 6,140. In third place, with 4,059 votes, was Earl Schick, who replaced Dawn Fantasia on the board in February.

Sparta lawyer Robert Kovic had 3,190 votes and Byram Councilman Harvey Roseff had 2,362.

“Al and I won because we were the best candidates,” said Carney, who ran on a slate with Henderson. “Alan has 12 years of experience and I’ve been around for six and a half years now, and I think people recognize the outreach we do and find us the right people for the job.”

Henderson said, “I think I brought a lot to the table, and my 12 years on the Lafayette council as well as my 29 years as a law enforcement officer meant a lot to people. Several people told me they could see my passion for the county whenever I spoke.”

Roseff, who ran on a slate with Kovic, said he is glad that he ran.

In the end, the race came down to money, he noted.

“Rob and I ran because we had issues we wanted to bring out and we brought those out as best as we could,” he said. “It is difficult to run a campaign and get your message out with very little money, especially when someone like Carney has massive union support.”

During the race, Roseff and Kovic accused the commissioners board of not addressing allegations of financial irregularities at the county food bank.

Kovic said he will continue talking about that issue whether or not he runs again.

“We weren’t battling brains, we were battling union bucks,” he said. “We ran to call attention to things such as the food pantry that we feel are being swept under the carpet.

“We started something and we aren’t going to relent, especially myself. I called the FBI about what I believe is a problem at the county food bank in terms of not just financial irregularities but health and safety violations as well.”

While acknowledging the support of his union, Local 825 Operating Engineers, Carney reiterated that the better candidates won.

He said Kovic’s claims about the food pantry are unfounded.

“I am sure Rob did contact the FBI, but that doesn’t mean there is validity to what he is saying,” Carney said. “We have not been contacted by anyone.

“(And) the county votes, not my union. If (Roseff and Kovic) ever made a good impact on the county, maybe they would have gotten more votes.”

Schick, who was elected by members of the Sussex County Republican Committee to replace Fantasia, called the campaign “a terrific experience.”

“My supporters were energized, and I ran my first-ever campaign as a commissioner. This process taught me that in less than three months, I was able to generate a great level of support through meet-and-greets and veterans events around the county and build solid relationships across the board politically.

“While the results were not what I wanted, I’m extremely encouraged by the number of people who voted for me and called or text(ed) asking me to continue the fight and run again in 2025.

“There’s a lot to accomplish in the next six months before my term is up and I look forward to working with Director (Jill) Space, Deputy Director (Chris) Carney, Commissioner (Jack) DeGroot and Commissioner (William) Hayden. I am excited to continue the fight for the residents of this beautiful county and even more excited to have a full year to prepare for the 2025 election.”

Schick also thanked his wife, Donna, “for her love and support through this entire process.”

All members of the board are Republicans, and a win in the GOP primary is tantamount to winning the general election.

Local races

In the race for two seats on the Branchville Borough Council, incumbents Russell Bellis Jr. and Troy Orr had 84 and 63 votes, respectively. Melissa Fischer had 55, Keith Whitehead had 47 and Randolph Morse had 28.

In Franklin, incumbents Rachel Heath and Gilbert Snyder had 303 and 302 votes, respectively, followed by Patricia Carnes with 161 votes in the race for two seats on the Borough Council.

In the race for one seat on the Hardyston Township Council, incumbent Carl Miller was leading with 499 votes, compared with 413 for Anthony Alfano.

In Hopatcong, Joseph Falconi and Esad “Steve” Kucevic, running on a slate, had 962 and 922 votes, respectively, compared with 569 and 546 for John Young and Michael Francis, respectively. Young and Francis were running on another slate for two seats on the Borough Council. Incumbents Dawn Roberts and Ryan Smith did not file to run for re-election.

In races for two seats on the Ogdensburg Borough Council, Lynn Lame and Richard Gandarinho, with 161 and 138 votes, respectively, led incumbent Kenneth Poyer, who had 89 votes. Poyer was the only local incumbent who lost his race.

In Stanhope, incumbents William Thornton and Tyler Simpson won with 261 and 249 votes, respectively, compared with 42 votes for Najib Iftikhar.

In a race for one seat on the Wantage Township Committee, Justin Dudzinski had 853 votes compared with 488 for Marcus Luce.

Statewide results

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim won his party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in the primary, setting up a general election contest against wealthy hotel operator Curtis Bashaw, who defeated a Trump-backed candidate for the Republican nomination.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez also will be on the ballot after declaring his intention to run as an independent on June 3 in the midst of a federal corruption trial. The turmoil surrounding the embattled senator has created the possibility of a headache for Democrats in a state where they haven’t lost an election for Senate since 1972.

President Joe Biden and Donald Trump, already their parties’ presumptive nominees, both won in the primaries.

Voters also picked House candidates, awarding all the incumbents with their party nominations.

Rep. Tom Kean Jr., R-7, claimed victory over Roger Bacon 23 minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Kean, who was elected to Congress in 2022, will face Democrat Sue Altman in the November election. The 7th District includes all of Hunterdon and Warren counties and parts of Morris, Somerset, Sussex and Union counties. The Sussex County towns in the district are Andover Borough, Byram, Fredon, Green Township, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta, Stanhope, Stillwater and Walpack.

In the 5th District, which includes the rest of Sussex County as well as West Milford in Passaic County, incumbent Josh Gottheimer did not face an opponent in the Democratic primary.

Mary Jo Guinchard won the GOP nomination in the 5th District over George Song.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Voter turnout in Sussex County was about 16.5 percent.
Almost three-quarters of the 19,350 ballots were cast in person on Election Day. Mail-in ballots totaled 4,324, and 956 people voted early in person.