Oroho unseats D'Angeli in Republican freeholder primary race

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:46

    FRANKLIN - Overcoming personal tragedy in the campaign's waning days, Franklin Borough Councilman Steve Oroho unseated incumbent Jo Ann D'Angeli to win a seat on the Sussex County Freeholder Board in Tuesday's Republican primary. Oroho, whose younger brother Daniel died suddenly last Saturday at the age of 42, ran a strong second in the three-way race for the two Republican freeholder nominations. He polled 6,060 votes out of 10,658 votes cast countywide. D'Angeli placed third with 4,956 votes, while her running mate, incumbent Hal Wirths, led all vote getters with 7,186 tallies. With no Democrat having registered to run for freeholder, Oroho and Wirths are virtually assured of winning seats in November's general election. The bitterly contested primary saw the majority of Republican officeholders, including Assemblyman Guy Gregg and Congressman E. Scott Garrett, supporting the Wirths-D'Angeli ticket, while Oroho won the support of both state senator Robert Littell and his daughter, Alison McHose, who is an assemblywoman from the 24th district. Glen Vetrano was the lone incumbent freeholder to back Oroho's successful bid. "I certainly appreciate all the people who supported me," said Oroho, who emphasized a strong background in financial affairs throughout the campaign. "I think we had a terrific message. I was a solo contender against the machine, and I think people saw that. I think the more we get the issues out, the better we represent the people of Sussex County." Oroho contended that taxes countywide had gone up steeply within D'Angeli's six years in office, while pointing out that Franklin had held its spending more in line. His bid for countywide office was seen by some as an affront to the Republican Party, something with which Vetrano disagreed. "It takes nothing away from Freeholder D'Angeli, who has served both her community and the county well," Vetrano said. "I think Steve Oroho will bring a new dimension to the current freeholder board with his financial background. And I see a lot of new faces I haven't seen. The Republican Party is a party of inclusion, and who are we to deny anyone the right to run for public office?" D'Angeli disputed the contention that Oroho's campaign had brought a new mix of voters into the G.O.P. "I haven't seen them," she said. "I think we had a low voter turnout. Negative campaigning works. It was a very negative campaign, there's no question about that." "He was probably one of the most focused candidates that I've ever worked with," said Virginia Littell, the wife of the senator, in regard to Oroho. "He listens. He doesn't dictate. And what he's done for the party is he's energized and brought in so many new people, and seeing that the county maintains its charm, and what they moved here for." Oroho stated emphatically that he will continue to serve on the Franklin Borough Council after he takes county office next January.