JERSEY CITY, NJ. November 8, 2023 (With reporting from Insider NJ | New Jersey Globe) — Democrats have retained control of countywide offices in Camden, Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union Counties, all heavily Democratic counties that no one on either side of the aisle believed to be competitive, the New Jersey Globe projects.
Craig Guy has been elected as the next Hudson County Executive and will take office following his inauguration in January. A lifelong Democrat, retired Jersey City police lieutenant and proud father and grandfather, Guy is the longtime Chief of Staff to current County Executive Tom DeGise and will succeed him in the role.
“I could not be more thankful to the people of Hudson County for entrusting me with the honor and responsibility of serving as your next County Executive, and I pledge to work tirelessly to deliver the progress that our residents need and deserve,” said County Executive-elect Guy. “Hudson County has always been my home and I’ve devoted my life to serving all the people who live in our twelve municipalities — as County Executive, I will fight each and every day to improve quality of life and provide more opportunities for our residents.”
County Executive-elect Guy plans to announce a transition team in the coming days that will be tasked with reviewing county policies and priorities and producing a transition report outlining a set of goals across different sectors that will shape his first term agenda. He will take office in January as the fifth County Executive in Hudson County history following the advent of the position in 1977.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for their steadfast support and encouragement, my campaign team for working with me throughout this journey, the many elected officials who endorsed my campaign especially the County Commissioners and the 12 Mayors I will have the honor to serve with, my brothers and sisters in organized labor who rallied behind our campaign, my Column A state legislative running mates who we will be collaborating with as they advocate for Hudson County in Trenton, all the hardworking and dedicated county employees I will work alongside, and most of all the people of Hudson County for giving me the opportunity to serve,” said County Executive-elect Guy.
Democrats also easily won all nine county commissioner seats; Republicans have not won a seat since 1984. In the 1st district, incumbent Democrat Kenneth Kopacz leads Republican challenger Leandro Lachica. Lachica previously served as a diplomat from his native Philippines. In the 2nd district, incumbent Democrat William O’Dea won re-election without opposition. A county commissioner since 1997, O’Dea will announce his bid for mayor of Jersey City on November 18.
Five other incumbents ran unopposed: Jerry Walker in District 3; Yraida Aponte-Lipski in District 4; Fanny Cedeño in District 6, Caridad Rodriguez in District 7; and Robert Baselice in District 8. In the Hoboken-based 5th district, incumbent Democrat Anthony Romano, the winner of a close Democratic primary, beat Republican challenger Joseph Branco. Aponte-Lipski also had to overcome a tough primary challenge to reach the general election. Albert Cifelli, the Democratic incumbent in the Kearny-based 9th district, beat Republican challenger Jorge Dos Santos.
Democrats continue their domination of county government in Union County, with their 27th consecutive win. Incumbent Democratic Sheriff Peter Corvelli defeated Republican Gerardo Napolitano, and Democrats won all three county commissioner seats as well: Commissioner Lourdes Leon, appointed Commissioner Joseph Bodek, and Union Township Committeewoman Michele Delisfort beat Republicans Cathy Jakositz, Brian Johdos, and Carlos Santos.
Leon won her second term, while Bodek won his first full term; he won a special election earlier this year to succeed Christopher Hudak, who was elected surrogate in 2022. Delisfort replaces Commissioner Angela Garretson, who decided to retire. Jakositz served on the Mountainside Board of Education. Johdos and Santos are both small business owners.
Democrats have easily maintained their 9-0 majority on the Essex County Board of Commissioners, with Alturrick Kenney winning a second term as Surrogate. Four incumbent county commissioners won massive victories in the countywide at-large race: Brendan Gill, Patricia Sebold, Wayne Richardson, and Romaine Graham. They defeated Republicans Michael Pocelinko, Alexandra Campisi, Aristotle Popolizo, and Joseph Cifelli.
Sebold is the second-longest serving county commissioner in the state; she was elected in 1993 and has been the Livingston Democratic municipal chair since 1976. Gill is the Montclair Democratic municipal chair and influential Democratic powerbroker. Richardson, an official with the Laborers’ union, had been the District 2 commissioner and is running at-large this year. Republicans have not won an at-large freeholder/commissioner race since 1971. Democrats also held all five seats at the district-level commissioner seats.
In the 1st district, Democratic incumbent Robert Mercado won re-election; he ran unopposed. In the 2nd district, Democrat A’Dorian Murray-Thomas, a Newark school board member, beat independent Khalil Kettles. In the 3rd district, incumbent Democrat Tyshammie Cooper won re-election; she ran unopposed. In the 4th district, Democratic incumbent Leonard Luciano defeated Republican challenger Adam Kraemer, a 13-time candidate. And in the 5th district, Carlos Pomares, a Democratic incumbent, defeated Republican challenger Kristin Bolschak.
Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton) was elected Mercer County Executive tonight, easily defeating Republican County Chair Lisa Richford. Benson will replace five-term incumbent Brian Hughes. Hughes dropped his re-election bid after Benson, a six-term assemblyman, decisively beat him at the Mercer County Democratic convention earlier this year.
In the sheriff’s race, Democrat Jack Kemler won his fifth term in a rematch with Republican Bryan “Bucky” Boccanfuso. He defeated Boccanfuso with 70% of the vote three years ago. Incumbent Democrats Lucylle Walter and John Cimino won re-election to their county commissioner seats against Republican challengers Joseph Stillwell and Denise Turner.
Democratic Commissioners Louis Cappelli Jr. (D-Haddon) and Jonathan L. Young Sr. (D-Berlin) defeated Republicans Jason Fanning and Norman Rebel Jr. to continue a 32-year winning streak at the county level. Cappelli was first elected as a commissioner in 2003 and has served as the board’s director since 2006. Young has served as a commissioner since 2015. Fanning ran for Gloucester City Common Council in 2022, but lost that race.
Democratic incumbents Charles Tomaro and Leslie Koppel easily defeated Republican opponents Gary Hagopian and Pedro Pisar, continuing a Democratic winning streak that began in 1992. Tomaro has been a commissioner since 2011; Koppel has served since 2017.