HAZLET – Hazlet Republicans will continue control of local government in 2020 after successfully beating back Democratic Party challengers in every precinct in Tuesday’s election.
With 17 districts reporting Tuesday night, unofficial results show that Republican incumbents Scott Aagre and Michael Glackin won re-election for full terms on the five-member Township Committee, and Republican Michael Sachs won the unexpired one-year term.
“We wanted to keep the progress going in Hazlet and we’re very grateful to the voters,” said Hazlet GOP municipal chairman Gene Kiley, at a quiet gathering of members at Lakeside Manor.
Aagre, the current mayor, received 2,148 votes, or 29.13 percent of votes cast. Glackin, the current deputy mayor, won 2,130 votes, or 28.88 percent.
Their opponents, both relative newcomers to township politics, split the remainder. Democrat Ryan O’Steen received 1,573 votes, or 21.33 percent of votes cast, and Lucille Lo Sapio won 1,522 or 20.64 percent. All totals are subject to slight change when all late mail-in and provisional ballots are counted.
“We had several issues that had come up during the year, and last year. It’s nice to know at least I still have the backing of the majority of the town and the voters,” said Mayor Scott Aagre. “That’s what I’m here for, for the better of the town, and as best I can to try to work in the right direction.”
Running mate Glackin said he thought it was a good fight. “It was a campaign about the issues, rather than about personal attacks,” said Glackin.
In the race for a one year-unexpired term, two longtime Hazlet residents with many years of experience in township government faced off. In the end, incumbent Republican Michael Sachs beat Barbara Ronchetti, who served on the Township Committee last year.
Sachs received 2,104 votes, or 56.2 percent of the 3,744 votes cast in the contest. Ronchetti got 1,639 votes, or 43.78 percent.
“For the first time it was a good campaign on both sides. It wasn’t a nasty campaign, and I appreciate that,” said Sachs.
At a noisy gathering of Hazlet Democratic Club at Yesterday’s, volunteers studied the numbers as they scratched them out, district by district, on a white board and came to the realization they had likely lost.
Ronchetti said flatly, “I expected to lose because they did a road in every development. People get all excited because their development is going to get done. It was a brilliant move to do it right before the election,” she said.
Republican elected officials have dismissed that charge, saying the streets were being addressed worst to last, on the recommendation of the township engineer.
Ronchetti said she also believes that the local Democrats were hurt by the impeachment proceedings in Washington D.C, because it motivated local Republicans to head to the polls to support the President by voting for their party.
She said some good had come of the race, because the Democratic campaign talking points about overdevelopment, annual property tax revaluations and desire to establish townwide garbage collection are now being widely discussed.
Democrat Lucille Lo Sapio, who launched a podcast about Hazlet during the campaign called Hazlet Coffee Talk, said she would stay engaged in Hazlet topics. She enjoyed going door-to-door and talking to residents about the town.
“I met a lot of nice and interesting people, had a lot of great conversations, and I’m still going to be a disrupter,” she said. “I’m definitely going to use the podcast to inform people on what’s going on,” she said.
For Ryan O’Steen, it was the second year in a row he had attempted a run for Township Committee. “I’m disappointed that I lost, but I believe the people who won will do a great job and anything I can do to help them, I will do it,” he said.