After 28 years as mayor, Adam Schneider was decisively tossed out of office on Tuesday and replaced by the younger brother of his bitter rival, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.
Councilman John Pallone beat Schneider by a massive 62%-33% margin, bringing along his full slate of council candidates.
Pallone won 16 of 17 voting districts, beating Schneider by 1,359 votes – 2,908 to 1,549. Former school board member Avery Grant finished third with 247 votes (5%).
Schneider found himself under fire for his relationships with developers, including the Kushner family, and for his refusal to back project labor agreements that caused several unions to jump into the fray in support of Pallone. Even though the race is technically non-partisan, Long Branch is predominately Democratic, and Schneider is on the defensive after endorsing Republicans like Chris Christie and Jennifer Beck.
Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli, who ran with Schneider five times before joining the Pallone slate, was the top vote-getter with 2,479 votes. She will be joined on the council by Rose Widdis (2,463), Bill Dangler (2,357), Mario Viera (2,302) and Anita Voogt (2,088).
Three incumbents running on Schneider’s slate lost their bids for re-election: Councilwomen Joy Bastelli (1,503) and Kate Billings (1,421) and Councilman Michael Sirianni (1,487).
Frank Pallone and Schneider began their political careers as close friends and allies, but the relationship soon deteriorated amidst political squabbles in their hometown.
Pallone was a 30-year-old attorney when started his political career in Long Branch when he was elected to the city council in 1982. The following year, he won a State Senate seat in an upset victory against Republican incumbent Brian Kennedy.
After he was elected to Congress in 1988, he wanted Schneider to take his council seat. Mayor Philip Huhn broke a tie by appointing Bob Wainright to the seat. Pallone took the race so seriously that he pushed then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Florio to come to Long Branch and endorse Schneider. Schneider beat Wainright in a 1989 special for Pallone’s unexpired term.
When Huhn decided not to run for re-election in 1990, Schneider was elected mayor. John Pallone, Frank’s younger brother, was elected councilman in the Schneider ticket.
The Pallone/Schneider alliance deteriorated over the next four years, some say because John Pallone wanted to do things – like buy a fire truck – and Schneider refused to cooperate. The blood became so bad that in John Pallone ran against the mayor in 1994.
Schneider beat Pallone by 530 votes, 3,226 to 2,606, with 475 votes going to a third candidate, Councilman Michael Palughi.
John Pallone returned to the city council in 2010, narrowly beating Schneider-backed candidate Al Menckin by about ten votes. He was re-elected in 2014.