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.
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.
“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.
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.