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Dover Alderman Marcos Tapia, Sr. (Photo: Marcos Tapia).

Dover alderman primary heads to recount

Incumbent lost Democratic primary by six votes

By David Wildstein, July 01 2021 9:15 pm

A Dover alderman who lost the Democratic primary by six votes has filed for a recount.

Marcos Tapia, Sr. was defeated by off-the-line candidate Arturo Santana, 111 to 105, a 51%-49% margin in his bid for a second term.

Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz ordered a recount to commence on July 14 for all three voting districts in Ward 4.

Tapia won the Election Day machine vote, 73 to 47, and the provisional ballots, 6 to 3.  But Santana won vote-by-mail ballots, 61 to 26.

Minkowitz also ordered recounts in two county committee races, including one where Tapia won by five votes against former Alderman Ronald Camacho and his wife tied with Santana running mate Maria Camacho.

In Ward 4, District 2, organization-backed candidates Carlos and Fanery Valencia were defeated.  Carlos Maralunda won by 10 votes and Luz Maralunda by 19.

The Morris County judge declined to waive a $75 recount fee and instead ordered Tapia to post a cash bond of $6.

Gov. Phil Murphy had endorsed three incumbents on the Democratic line who won the primary — Jessica Cruz, Judith Rugg and Adrian Ballesteros — but pointedly skipped taking sides in the Tapia vs. Santana contest.

Tapia is pro-life, something local Democrats said was a non-starter for the Democratic governor.

The four were part of an insurgent group that toppled an entrenched political machine run by then-Mayor James P. Dodd in 2018 and 2019.   While Dover has a population that is over 70% Hispanic, the local government had largely been run by white men.

A Dover First slate headed by Edward Correa took control of the Democratic County Committee in the Democratic primary and ousted three incumbent members of the Board of Aldermen in 2018.  In 2019, Carolyn Blackman ousted Dodd, who ran for re-election as an independent, and then won the rest of the governing body seats.

Tapia won a seat on the Board of Alderman in 2019, when he defeated independent Juan Pablo Lopez, a Dodd ally, by 56 votes, 44%-45%.  The incumbent, Steven Toth, did not seek re-election.

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