MAPLEWOOD, NJ — With 20 of 21 districts reporting in by 10 p.m. on election night, Maplewood voters have again made clear that they want an all-Democrat Township Committee. In a landslide election, Democratic incumbent Vic DeLuca and challenger Dean Dafis have been elected to the two open seats on the committee, beating out Republican challenger Mike Summersgill.
DeLuca, who is currently mayor of Maplewood, will regain his seat, while Dafis will take Committeewoman India Larrier’s seat; Larrier chose not to run for re-election.
Election results are unofficial until verified by the Essex County clerk, Christopher J. Durkin.
According to the unofficial results, with 96 percent of the votes tallied, DeLuca garnered the most votes with 6,136 votes, or 46.01 percent, and Dafis came in a close second with 5,746 votes, or 43.09 percent. Summersgill was only able to collect 1,437 votes, or 10.78 percent. This election continues the trend of the past two decades in which Republican candidates have been shut out of the Maplewood Township Committee.
There were 17 write-in votes.
“It feels great,” DeLuca said in a Tuesday night phone interview about winning re-election. “I thank the voters of Maplewood for their support and confidence in me. I’m really excited to serve for another three years.”
DeLuca, who was just elected to his seventh term on the committee, was also pleased with the results coming in from the rest of the state — specifically that Democrat Phil Murphy beat out Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican, in a landslide to serve as the state’s next governor. DeLuca said he looks forward to working with Murphy and seeing what other positive changes can be made in New Jersey that will ultimately benefit Maplewood and surrounding towns.
“The priority is how to bring more revenue into town,” DeLuca said. “I look forward to working with Phil Murphy on school funding reform. I also intend to work to run Maplewood more efficiently and cheaper.”
DeLuca cited the proposed fire department merger with South Orange as a major step in that direction. Dafis agreed, adding that when he takes office, he wants to look at other shared service opportunities, such as fully merging the two towns’ public works departments, saying it could bring “tremendous savings.”
“We really need to give our taxpayers some relief,” Dafis said in a Tuesday night phone interview. He plans to work to improve the Irvington Avenue business district, he said.
Dafis is also pleased with the election results on the state level.
“I’m optimistic about how things are shaking out on a state level. It sends a message to Washington,” Dafis said. “As soon as possible, we need to tap into the ear of the incoming governor. We need to work with him to get our fair share of state aid for the necessary improvements we need in our schools.”
Overall, Dafis is just pleased to see Maplewood rally around him and elect him to office.
“I’m humbled and incredibly grateful,” he said. “I’m excited to serve Maplewood and move our town forward.”