A slate of candidates for Ocean Township Council led by Mayor Christopher Siciliano won 4 out of 5 seats, with incumbent Robert Acerra narrowly leading in a non-partisan election that had enormous partisan overtones.
Acerra, dropped from Siciliano’s ticket after running as the Republican candidate for State Assembly in the 11th district in 2017, leads incumbent Donna Schepiga by 68 votes, 2,268 to 2,200. There are still several hundred votes that remain uncounted.
The top vote-getter was Margie Donlon, a physician who had been the Democratic candidate for Monmouth County freeholder in 2017. She received 2,678 votes, followed by Siciliano (2,463), David Fisher (2,425) and incumbent John Napolitani (2,234). All four ran together, along with Schepiga.
Siciliano is expected to return as mayor, despite some forced errors that included an Aaron Burr-style Facebook blowup when he challenged a resident to a fight.
Donlon ran with the strong backing of State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), who sent an endorsement letter on her behalf to every registered Democrat in Ocean Township. She ran 410 votes ahead of Acerra, received strong support from Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, the Republican county chairman.
Acerra’s running mate, Victor Ashkenazi, finished eighth with 1,808 votes, behind Jaquelyn Wenzel (1,852) and ahead of Raymond Pogwist (1,466).
The non-partisan race gives Democrats three of the five council seats: Siciliano, Napolitani and Donlon. Fisher is an independent. The race for the fifth seat is between two Republicans, Acerra and Schepiga.
Voter turnout was at 22.7%.