Home>Highlight>Grilo unseats Smith in East Newark

East Newark mayor Joseph R. Smith, right, and his Democratic primary opponent, Dina Grilo.

Grilo unseats Smith in East Newark

8-term mayor loses re-election

By David Wildstein, June 04 2019 10:00 pm

Hudson County’s longest-serving mayor has lost re-election.

Dana Grilo, a 47-year-old executive at J.P. Morgan Chase who grew up in East Newark and is self-funding her campaign, defeated East Newark Mayor Joe Smith, 78, 175-144 Tuesday.

Grilo, a first generation American born to Portuguese parents and the first opponent Smith faced in 16 years, will become Hudson County’s only woman mayor.

Republicans are not fielding a candidate in the general election.

Though it appears low, the race’s turnout vastly exceeds that of previous years’ primaries.

The tiny town of 2,406 has about 975 registered voters, 650 of whom are Democrats. Another 275 are unaffiliated.

In 2015, Smith won the primary with just 74 votes. In 2011, he won with 72.

Grilo ran on the belief that changes in East Newark’s population — 61% of the town’s residents are Hispanic and a significant portion of the population is of Portuguese descent — could make Smith, who has served as the town’s mayor since 1987, vulnerable.

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