With about 90 percent of the votes counted by 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 7, the Associated Press showed Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia and her running mate, Chester Township Mayor Mike Inganamort, leading in a five-way race for two seats in the state Assembly.
Fantasia and Inganamort each had about a quarter of the votes. They were followed by Josh Aikens, president of the Lafayette Board of Education, and his running mate, Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski, each with slightly more than a fifth of the votes. Sparta lawyer Robert Kovic had about 5 percent of the total.
Fantasia and Inganamort won the party line on the ballot in Morris County, which is about 35 percent of the district, and Sarnoski and Aikens had the line in Warren County, which is about 5 percent. Sussex County does not have a special party line on its ballot.
District 24 includes all of Sussex County, where Fantasia had 5,920 votes; Inganamort had 5,349; Aikens received 4,871; Sarnoski got 4,459; and 1,165 voted for Kovic.
The latest overall totals available were 8,320 for Fantasia, 7,789 for Inganamort, 6,963 for Aikens, 6,577 for Sarnoski and 1,565 for Kovic.
The Republican nominees will face one Democrat, Baramdai “Alicia” Sharma, in the fall.
On Wednesday, Fantasia said, “The support Mike and I received in Sussex County and across the district was truly humbling. Voters embraced our positive conservative message, rejected the negative personal smears against us, and made a clear statement about the future of our party and who they want to lead it.
“We’re going to work hard to win the general election and would be honored to join soon-to-be Senator Parker Space representing the 24th legislative district in the state Assembly.”
Inganamort said, “This was a team effort and a team victory. I can’t wait to represent my home county and my hometown in Trenton.”
Jack DeGroot, 24, of Wantage had a strong lead in a three-way race to be the Republican nominee for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners, according to updated unofficial results released by the Sussex County Clerk’s office.
The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Damaris Lira in the November election.
All current commissioners are Republicans, and the county has almost twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats. There are about 40,000 voters not registered with either party, compared with nearly 50,000 registered Republicans.
In the unofficial results, DeGroot had 6,002 votes compared with 3,339 for incumbent Herbert Yardley, who was seeking a third term on the board. Nicholas D’Agostino, president of the Sussex-Wantage Board of Education, had 1,895 votes.
DeGroot thanked the voters. “The trust and belief you have placed in me to be Republican nominee for Sussex County commissioner is deeply humbling. ... I want to assure you that I will work tirelessly to not only meet but exceed your expectations.
”I aim to be a beacon of hope for both past and future generations in Sussex County. I want to assure previous generations that our county’s unique heritage will be preserved, ensuring that our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities and quality of life that we have cherished. I am passionate about inspiring and empowering my generation and the next to actively engage in governance and contribute to our community,” he added.
The current Assembly members in District 24, which includes all of Sussex County, did not seek re-election.
Assemblyman Parker Space, R-24, had no opponent in the Republican primary for the state Senate seat now held by Steve Oroho, R-24. Oroho will retire at the end of his term in December.
Space will face Democrat Edward Khanoo in November.
Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-24, also plans to retire at the end of this year.
While the overall voter turnout in Sussex County was about 13 percent, it was close to 24 percent in the Republican primary, which also had contested races for Township Committees in Andover, Hampton, Stillwater and Wantage and for mayor in Stanhope.
In all of the municipal races, the GOP nominees most likely will win the November election because no Democrats filed to run for those posts.
Andover Township Committee
In races for two seats on the Andover Township Committee, Mayor Thomas Walsh Jr. and Michael Lesnak, a former mayor and committeeman, were leading with 414 and 319 votes, respectively.
Committeeman John Carafello was third with 205 votes.
Walsh and Carafello were running for re-election.
Lesnak thanked the voters “and especially those who cast their ballots for me.” “Their support and trust is not taken lightly and I will do everything in my power to represent them in the best manner possible.
”I am humbled, once again, to be representing all residents of Andover Township in the November election.”
He attributed his nomination “to being honest with the people, fulfilling my promises, and running the town as a business, holding others responsible for the positions they hold and the trust of the people.”
Hampton Township Committee
In Hampton, incumbents David Hansen and Philip Yetter apparently won the nominations for two seats on the Township Committee.
Hansen had 390 votes and Yetter had 378 compared with 177 for Michael Rathbun, a former official in Franklin.
”Both Phil Yetter and I were happy with the outcome of the election,” Hansen said. “We ran the campaign as a team and the voters saw our team as having more experience and commitment to the township. Our current Township Committee has worked well together and has numerous years of past experience to get the job done and address the needs of the residents.”
He promised that “both Phil and I along with the balance of the Township Committee will strive to manage the township in a conservative direction, always looking out for the residents and their tax dollars and keeping the township debt-free. “
Stanhope mayor’s race
According to unofficial results reported by the county clerk’s office, Stanhope Councilman Eugene Wronko appeared to unseat Mayor Patricia Zdichocki.
Wronko had 243 votes compared with 119 for Zdichocki.
He said he was grateful to the residents who voted for him.
“I believe the significant size of the win clearly demonstrates that the residents wanted change and that my platform resonated with them. I am excited to take the next steps and work for the residents to help make the borough the best place possible for us all to live.”
Wronko attributed his victory “to all of the individuals who worked closely with me on the campaign.”
He had the support of the current council “who all contributed by working with me on strategy, canvassing and getting the vote out on primary day.”
“In addition to the council members, I had other volunteers who dedicated time to help me canvass, get my signs out, and rally friends and family members to vote. Lastly, I feel my platform spoke about creative solutions to issues that impact the borough. I didn’t simply present the same old story but presented new ideas.”
All results are unofficial. Mail-in ballots postmarked by June 6 will be accepted until June 12. Provisional ballots will be counted after all mail-in ballots are counted. Please check back for updates.
Stillwater Township Committee
In a race for one seat on the Stillwater Township Committee, Mayor Lisa Chammings received 496 voters compared with 151 for Arlene Fisher.
Chammings said, “I am very pleased that the residents of Stillwater were able to see though the negativity of my opponent and continue to support what I always do for our residents to the best of my ability, which is to roll up my sleeves, help in all ways as needed, and always try to make responsible, ethical, and informed decisions on all matters within our township.”
She attributed her victory “to the majority that continued to spread the word to get out and vote in support of what I do for our community.”
Wantage Township Committee
Justin Vander Groef was far ahead of Justin Dudzinski in a race for one seat on the Wantage Township Committee. Mayor Jon Morris, whose term expires Dec. 31, did not seek re-election.
Vander Groef received 931 votes, compared with 382 for Dudzinski.
The trust and belief you have placed in me to be Republican nominee for Sussex County commissioner is deeply humbling. ... I want to assure you that I will work tirelessly to not only meet but exceed your expectations.” - Jack DeGroot, Republican nominee for Sussex County commissioner