By immovable local tradition, the top vote-getter for Nutley’s five Board of Commissioners seats becomes mayor for four years, but that custom became more complicated on Friday when Joseph Scarpelli and Mauro Tucci tied with 4,586 votes each.
Scarpelli told the New Jersey Globe that he and Tucci have come to an agreement: they will split the term and each will get two years as mayor.
“Mauro will go first,” Scarpelli said. “Then me.”
Scarpelli, a former Republican Essex County freeholder, became mayor in 2016 when he was the top vote-getter in the non-partisan municipal elections. He will go back to his commissioner seat when the governing body reorganizes on Tuesday, and will resume his mayoral post in May 2022.
Tucci had been mayor once before. He held the post briefly in 2012 after Mayor Joanne Cocchiola resigned to become the municipal court judge, but was replaced when Al Petracco ran first in the local election that May – 13 votes ahead of Scarpelli.
In 2016, Scarpelli finished in first place, 350 votes ahead of Petracco.
A recount could still be in the offing.
Petracco finished in third place with 4,549 votes, and came within 37 votes of a three-way tie.
“Mauro Tucci and Joe Scarpelli are very capable, but at this time I am leaving my options open,” Petracco told the Globe.
Of the 8,225 ballots that were received by the Essex County Board of Elections by close of business on Thursday, 8,028 were counted. The other 197 votes were rejected by election officials.
“I want to know why they threw ballots out,” Petracco said. “I would think they want to get everyone’s vote (counted).”
Scarpelli said he expects the transition to be smooth.
“I don’t see any major changes to appointments,” he said. “The attorneys have been there for a long time.”
Scarpelli had initially led Tucci by 19 votes on Tuesday, but the race became tied on Friday after 778 new votes were counted.