A slate of incumbents led by Mayor Emil Carafa, Jr. appear to have swept five seats on the Lodi Borough Council in Tuesday’s non-partisan municipal elections.
Newcomer Scott Luna was the top vote-getter on the Lodi Pride slate with 1,221 votes, followed by incumbent Vincent Martin (1,208), Carafa (1,196), incumbent Albert DiChiara (1,171) and newcomer Joseph Leto, IV (1,116).
Leto leads Sam Garofalo of the Citizens Against Corruption ticket with by just 51 votes.
George Panagiotou, making his fourth bid for a council seat, trails Garofalo by only five votes.
It is not immediately clear how many uncounted provisional ballots were cast, or how many vote-by-mail ballots will be returned before the Thursday deadline.
The other three candidates running with Garofalo and Panagiotou were defeated: Rosa Antao-Oliviera (999), Amelia Abrams (992) and Joseph Agosta (931).
David Kim, running along as the Advance Lodi candidate, finished eleventh with 392 votes.
While Panagiotou has never come close to securing a council seat, he came within just 29 votes of winning a November 2018 school board race against former mayor Marc Schrieks.
Carafa is Lodi’s third mayor since 2015, when Schrieks resigned to take a job with newly-elected Bergen County Executive James Tedesco. Schrieks’ replacement, Bruce Masopust, resigned later that year to become the borough manager; he was replaced by Carafa.
Four years ago, the Lodi Pride ticket – then known as United for Lodi – swept all five seats. Ryan Curioni, a former school board member, lost by about 200 votes; Panagiotou ran about 500 votes behind the fifth-place winner.
In 2011, three United for Lodi incumbents and their two running mates won easily. Panagiotou lost that race by about 550 votes.
The last time Lodi voters ousted incumbents was in 2007, when Mayor Gary Paparozzi lost re-election after being dropped from the slate of incumbents headed by Schrieks, then called Vision Integrity Progress (VIP). Paparozzi and Schrieks had been elected in 1999 on a ticket that ousted Mayor Philip Toronto and four incumbents.