Recount upholds GOP victories in Morris Township committee races

Township Committeeman Mat Nunn, left, is congratulated by Jeff Grayzel, who lost a recount bid on Tuesday. Behind them are Morris GOP Chair John Sette and Township Democrat Ron Goldberg. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Township Committeeman Mat Nunn, left, is congratulated by Jeff Grayzel, who lost a recount bid on Tuesday. Behind them are Morris GOP Chair John Sette and Township Democrat Ron Goldberg. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Township Committeeman Mat Nunn, left, is congratulated by Jeff Grayzel, who lost a recount bid on Tuesday. Behind them are Morris GOP Chair John Sette and Township Democrat Ron Goldberg. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Township Committeeman Mat Nunn, left, is congratulated by Jeff Grayzel, who lost a recount bid on Tuesday. Behind them are Morris GOP Chair John Sette and Township Democrat Ron Goldberg. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

Forget about “wait till next year!”

Jeff Grayzel thinks “wait till next decade!” is more realistic for Democrats hoping to crack the all-Republican Morris Township committee.

A recount on Tuesday failed to close the 23-vote gap separating Grayzel from Republican incumbent Bruce Sisler, who appears to have clinched his third three-year term. His GOP running mate, Mat Nunn, topped the four-way race for two seats back on Nov. 3, 2o15.

“I’m grateful to the residents of Morris Township,” said Sisler, who works for state Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco (R-25th Dist).  “I’m very appreciative of their faith in me and Mat Nunn. They have my promise that I will watch over our tax dollars and continue my fiscal conservatism to make sure we can afford to live in this great Township.”

Mail-in ballots were recounted, and tallies from 46 voting machines were re-checked, at the Morris County board of elections warehouse in Cedar Knolls.

RE-COUNT DUTY: Seated, from left, Morris election commissioners Helen O'Connor and George Hanley, and Township committee candidate  Cathy Wilson. Standingl, from left, Township Democrat Ron Goldberg and candidate Jeff Grayzel. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
RE-COUNT DUTY: Seated, from left, Morris election commissioners Helen O’Connor and George Hanley, and Township committee candidate Cathy Wilson. Standingl, from left, Township Democrat Ron Goldberg and candidate Jeff Grayzel. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The paper ballots yielded one new vote each for Sisler, Grayzel, and Democrat Cathy Wilson, who finished last but came closer than in her two prior campaigns.

“If there is any ray of hope, any solace to the results, it’s that the gap between fourth and first has shrunk even more,” said Grayzel, who has won a committee seat twice, while falling short in three recounts. (However, the first recount was so close that a judge ordered a new election–which Grayzel won in 2007.)

Grayzel said he agrees with county Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson that shifting demographics in the Township will tilt the balance toward Democrats in about 10 years. Whether Grayzel will keep running in the meantime is uncertain.

'NOT SURE' : After three recounts, Jeff Grayzel is undecided about running again. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
‘NOT SURE’ : After three recounts, Jeff Grayzel is undecided about running again. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I’m not sure at this point,” he said.

On election night Grayzel thought he was headed for the winner’s circle, as late numbers flip-flopped in his favor. But the lead was illusory; a problem with one voting machine temporarily skewed the results.

Grayzel had expressed concerns that his lead vanished while County Clerk Ann Grossi met behind closed doors with the Republican candidates.

But Grossi noted that she met with Democrats, too, during that evening. And in any case, there are no magic levers in her office to affect vote tabulation, she has said.

Matt Clarkin represented the Morris County Democratic organization at the recount. Morris Republican Chairman John Sette attended, in his role as an election commissioner. Sisler was the only candidate absent from the proceedings, which lasted about two hours. Attorney Alan Zakin was an observer for the county GOP.

GOP Attorney Alan Zakin, left , looks over recount numbers. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
GOP Attorney Alan Zakin, left , looks over recount numbers. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By law, Zakin said, the Democrats now have 10 days to present any final arguments to Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz.

Grayzel has considered challenging results from the Convent Station polling place, where volunteers improperly segregated voters along party lines on election morning.  It’s a card the candidate said he had intended to play if the gap were narrower.

“I’m not sure it makes a difference at this point,” Grayzel said.

Wilson said three campaigns are enough for her. She intends to devote her energy to organizing volunteers, to webcast meetings of the Township committee.

“I’m going to be the TV lady,” Wilson said.

Both sides agreed on one thing: Voter turnout was disappointingly low.

“We put a lot of effort into communicating with voters, and they still didn’t turn out,” Grayzel said.

Mat Nunn, who took time out from his law practice to attend the recount, said he wished more people could see the event.

“Maybe if they realized how important this is to people, more would vote,” Nunn said.

 

Tallies from voting machines are inspected. From left:
Tallies from voting machines are inspected. From left: Morris GOP Chair John Sette, Morris election board member George Hanley, Morris Deputy Clerk John Wojtacek, Morris Township candidate Cathy Wilson, attorney Joseph Bell, and Morris Township Committeeman Mat Nunn.
WHERE'S THE MAGNIFYING GLASS? John Sette, George Hanley and John Wojtajek scrutinize the numbers while Morris Township candidate Cathy Wilson watches. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
WHERE’S THE MAGNIFYING GLASS? John Sette, George Hanley and John Wojtajek scrutinize the numbers while Morris Township candidate Cathy Wilson watches and lawyer Joe Bell checks his notes. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

 

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Enough foot stomping and whining. The voters of Morris Township have spoken and their choices have been recorded. Best of luck to all, now let’s move on and continue the good work of keeping Morris Township the jewel of Morris County.

    I love the township and I’m proud of the great work all of our public servants have done over the years to make this such a great place to raise our families. We also happen to have probably the best paid administrators in the country. I would put Tim Quinn and Bill Foelsch up against any of their peers, they do an outstanding job for all of us.

    Happy Thanksgiving

  2. I think good governance would be well served by having a loyal opposition. I think having all the town council from one party is not good for accountability. I would say the same thing regardless of party affiliation. I continue to worry about the no bid contracts and other questionable actions of our local government on the town and the county level. A fresh voice, might be useful in raising the level of accountability. Also, John Sette has made derogatory comments about Democrats in the press in the last election. I find it interesting that he is allowed to be on the election oversight and recount. If one wants to be partisan, that’s fine. But it is hard to be an impartial umpire in the recount process and say hateful things about one party in the press at the same time.

  3. IT IS A PITIFUL SHAME ON THE TOWNSHIP AND THE ELECTION PROCESS THAT THE TOWNSHIP IS RUN IN THIS ONE SIDED WAY. REALLY SHAMEFUL.

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