DiCarlo Squeezes Past Hansen in Township Committee Race
In a tight race, Democratic township Committeewoman Denice Dicarlo fended off a challenge from Republican Jeff Hansen.
Although they were nowhere near each other on the issues during the campaign, Denice DiCarlo and Jeff Hansen came in neck and neck in the township committee race Tuesday.
DiCarlo, a Democrat, defeated GOP challenger Hansen by just 99 votes (5,117 to 5,018), according to unofficial election results.
She won a full, three-year term on the committee, where she's served since December 2011 while filling an unexpired term.
Although Republicans retain a 3-2 margin on the committee, the close loss Tuesday clearly stung them.
“Ninety-nine votes is a number that is going to stick in our head for a long time,” said Denny Forte, chairman of the West Deptford Republican Committee.
Hansen awaited the returns along with his supporters at Westwood Country Club on Tuesday night.
As the results began to pour in, Hansen took the early lead, but the numbers were close. At one point Hansen lead only by 16 votes. At the time, Forte predicted the race would be very close to the very end.
“We ran the right campaign, we ran the right guy,” Forte said.
Forte declined to comment Tuesday night on whether Republicans would seek a recount because the election was so close, saying only that party officials planned to regroup and weigh their options Wednesday morning.
Gloucester County spokeswoman Debra Sellitto said late Tuesday that all absentee ballots were counted, except a handful that came in late in the afternoon. Provisional ballots were not counted Tuesday, she said. In addition, in the wake of the powerful nor'easter Sandy, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno issued a directive Tuesday afternoon instructing county clerks to accept applications for mail-in ballots by fax or email through 5 p.m. Tuesday. Clerks will process those applications throughout the week, and ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. Friday. However, it's unlikely there are enough uncounted votes to change the outcome of the West Deptford race.
Addressing his supporters after the race was decided, Hansen urged them to support Mayor Raymond Chintall and Committeeman Samuel Cianfarini, both Republicans.
“Don‘t give up, that‘s all I've got to say, don’t give up,” said Hansen.
He concluded his speech by saying that GOP must move forward and look to next year.
“We do not need to hang ours heads in shame. We’ve done a lot of work.”
Across town at Verga Fire Hall, DiCarlo was surround by her family and supporters, including fellow Democratic Committeewoman Donna Szymborski.
The atmosphere inside the hall was tense early in the evening, but turned to jubilation when it was clear DiCarlo had narrowly hung on to her seat.
"I just want to say that this was not just my win. It was our win," DiCarlo said in her victory speech. "This is our town and we need to get it back."
Afterward, she said she was glad the campaign was over, so she could get back to focusing on township issues.
"It got really ugly," she said of the race. "Politics is politics, but I really do want to serve. I think I did a lot for the township this year and I just want to continue to do all I can do. It is about governing for me, so I'm just glad I get to serve another three years."
In the West Deptford school board race, Peter M. Guzzetti, Tom Lee and David A. Kline ran unopposed.
At the county level, incumbent Democrats Robert M. Damminger and Giuseppe "Joe" Chila easily retained their freeholder seats, defeating GOP challengers Margie Love and Tom Thistle.
Sheriff Carmel Morina, County Clerk James M. Hogan and Surrogate Helene M. Reed, all Democrats, also retained their posts.
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