In an upset, three council seats were won by Democrat challengers in Toms River on Tuesday night, leaving Republicans with a slim majority on the governing body of the state’s largest suburban municipality.
Toms River has long been a stronghold for Republicans, and has been all-Republican for most years since it changed to a council form of government in 2002 – and its name change from Dover Township since 2006.
According to the unofficial results: Democrats Daniel Rodrick will represent Ward 2, Laurie Huryk for Ward 3, and Terrance Turnbach for Ward 4. Republican Maria Maruca retained her seat for Ward 1.
Rodrick, in his third run for a council seat, eked out a victory with 3,874 votes over incumbent Kevin Geoghegan, who had 3,203.
Huryk, in her first run for a council seat, beat out Republican Louis Gallipoli. Gallipoli, in his first run too, entered the race late after incumbent Jeffrey Carr dropped out of the race. Huryk won 2,625 votes to Gallipoli’s 2,542.
Turnbach, also a newcomer, beat out incumbent Alfonso Manforti, 2,810 votes to 2,688 votes.
Republicans held onto the Ward 1 seat, with Maria Maruca earning 3,202 votes to Democrat Anthony Colucci’s 2,917.
As results came in across the precincts in each ward, the night was neck and neck between each party’s candidates, with spreads of as small as 100 votes at times.
Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said provisional ballots were still left to be counted and that they are certified on Monday.
Democrats’ campaign literature was dominated by concerns over overdevelopment, particularly in the northern neighborhoods of Toms River that bordered Lakewood, and criticism over township salaries and benefits packages for top administrators such as Paul Shives.
The three at-large seats on council are held by Republicans Mo Hill, Brian Kubiel and George Wittmann, with Republican Mayor Tom Kelaher.