SECAUCUS – In a stunning defeat that was bigger than the one the party experienced last year, three Democratic candidates for Secaucus Town Council lost by wide margins to Independent opponents backed by Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
Voters Tuesday went to the polls to select council representatives in each of Secaucus’ three municipal wards.
Independent incumbent Gary Jeffas of the 1st Ward was re-elected to his second term Tuesday, beating Democratic candidate Robert Zych 877 votes to 388.
In the town’s 2nd Ward, Independent incumbent James Clancy garnered 1,381 votes. His Democratic challenger, Nancy Mateo, received 345 votes. Clancy’s victory was particularly surprising given the fact that he was just appointed to the council in January to serve out the remainder of Gonnelli’s unexpired term as 2nd Ward town councilman. Clancy will now return to the council for a full four-year term.
In the 3rd Ward, Independent candidate Susan Pirro, who ran unsuccessfully for the council last year, defeated Democrat Mark Bruscino 1,122 votes to 542. Pirro easily won the 3rd Ward district that includes Harmon Cove, one of the town’s most densely packed communities.
After the election results came in, Secaucus Democratic Committee Chairman Vincent Prieto blamed the party’s loss to voter discontent with Democrats nationally, a theory dismissed by Mayor Gonnelli. Tuesday night the mayor chalked the Independents’ victory up to high voter satisfaction with the administration, which took over in January. – E. Assata Wright