Home>Campaigns>Fountoura wins Essex Sheriff primary, will face Pansini in November

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. (Photo: Pat Sebold via Facebook.)

Fountoura wins Essex Sheriff primary, will face Pansini in November

Essex Sheriff seeking 11th term

By David Wildstein, June 08 2021 9:33 pm

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fountoura coasted to a landslide victory in the Demcoratic primary, defeating John Arnold and Barry Jackson in the Democratic primary in what will likely be his 11th term.

He will face Republican Nicholas Pansini in the general election.

Pansini, the Essex GOP organization candidate, defeated Maureen Edelson, who ran on a slate headed by gubernatorial aspirant Hirsh Singh.

Fontoura has the backing of Gov. Phil Murphy, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), former Gov. Richard Codey, and Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr.

Arnold, who served as captain of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, is also the pastor of the Temple of Refuge Church in Newark.

Fontoura has run against Arnold once before.  In 2012, he beat him by 25,835 votes, 62%-19%, in a four-candidate primary.

The 10-term sheriff also fended off a primary challenge in 2009, defeating two challengers with 80% of the vote.

Fontoura became sheriff in 1991 after the incumbent, Thomas D’Alessio resigned following his election as Essex County Executive.

In the primary election that year, Fontoura defeated Newark City Council President Ralph Grant.

Republicans had a three-way primary for sheriff between former Newark Police Director Louis Greenleaf, District 5 Freeholder Arthur Clay, and former State Sen. Anthony Imperiale (R-Newark).  Clay won the primary, with Greenleaf, who ran on the Essex GOP organization line, finishing third.

Despite a Republican wave election that flipped control of both houses of the New Jersey Legislature following Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase, Fontoura defeated Clay by about 11,000 votes, 55%-45%.

A ten-point victory was Fontoura’s worst showing in his ten campaigns for sheriff.  He was re-elected in 2018 by 146,990 votes, 82%-18% against Republican Pasquale Capozzoli, a Caldwell councilman.

A retired Newark police captain and assistant chief, D’Alessio hired him as undersheriff in 1986.

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