Moorestown split its vote for town council, electing two Republicans and one Democrat in a tightly contested race.
Republicans Victoria Napolitano and Phil Garwood scored 4,920 and 4,818 votes respectively, with Democrat Greg Newcomer coming in third with 4,754 votes. Only 49 votes—not including absentee ballots—separated Newcomer and GOP candidate Pete Palko. A Republican source said Newcomer’s advantage was reduced to 13 votes with the absentee ballots counted—and that didn’t include the provisional ballots.
Republican campaign manager Steve Solomon said county GOP representatives were advising him not to concede the race Tuesday night. He was told there were “hundreds” of provisionals yet to be counted, which won’t be tallied until 10 days from the election.
Napolitano and Garwood expressed gratitude for the support Moorestown voters showed them.
"I am overwhelmed by the faith that Moorestown has shown in me,” said the 24-year-old Napolitano, who had never before run for public office. “I really did not expect to be the high vote-getter and to have so many people put their faith in me is really, really humbling."
Garwood was somewhat nostalgic about his time on the campaign trail, saying, “One of the great things was meeting Moorestown … I know it sounds hokey, but that’s what it was.
"I am just humbly appreciative of all the support that I've gotten through this whole thing," he added.
Newcomer was reserved in his reaction to the election results, given the slim margin of victory/defeat and the number of absentee and provisional ballots. There were 1,416 absentee ballots—an unusually high number, according to one township election official.
“The 1,400 absentee ballots are significant and the people will continue to speak,” said Newcomer. “I am an optimist. The glass is always half full for me. I have hope that (the ballots) will swing the whole election.”
Even if the uncounted ballots don’t alter the final result, Newcomer said he’s ready and willing to work with his Republican council mates.
“I am a collaborative person. I’ve worked with Independents, Republicans and Democrats for years,” he said. “I will work very hard to honor the fact that (the people) have given me their vote.”
Napolitano and Garwood were equally eager to put the campaign behind them and get down to business.
"Tomorrow I’m taking the day off,” Napolitano said, following a campaign season in which she and her running mates knocked on more than 4,000 doors. “We do have a lot to do. I plan on getting in touch with our township manager, just get all the information I possibly can. We've done a lot of that so far. We plan to make sure we're ready to go when inauguration comes.”
Garwood said he was taking a wait-and-see approach, but was hopeful Palko would join them on council once all the ballots were counted.
Democratic candidate Mark Hines, who received 4,332 votes, admitted he wasn’t terribly confident the uncounted ballots would swing in his party’s favor, but said, “We ran to win and the results validate that. We had a strong message and we feel success in that.”
Hines won’t run again—it's too time-consuming and draining—and said he’d like to see changes to Moorestown's party system to encourage qualified residents to run for council.
"The partisan politics makes it too hard, and I've been saying that for a long time. We need nonpartisan elections because partisan elections make it too difficult to get people to run,” he said.
Brian Sattinger,who ran alongside Hines and Newcomer, earned 4,377 votes.
All results are unofficial until the absentee and provisional ballots are counted. Assuming the results hold, Napolitano, Garwood and Newcomer will replace Mayor John Button and councilmen Greg Gallo and Mike Testa. They will join Republican councilmembers Chris Chiacchio and Stacey Jordan.