Greater Morristown election results: Upsets in Morristown, Morris School District

Sandi Mayer got news of her Morristown council victory after hiking around this volcano in New Zealand.


Tuesday was a tough night for some long-serving incumbents in Greater Morristown.

Alison Deeb, the lone Republican on the Morristown council, was denied a fourth term by Democratic newcomer Sandi Mayer, who won the Fourth Ward seat by a  541 to 445 vote. (All results in this article are from Morris County Clerk’s Office, but are unofficial.)

Kelly Montes, daughter of Third Ward Council candidate Lorena Inestroza, exchanges congratulations with the man who won the race, Councilman Stefan Armington, Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown Councilmen Stefan Armington (Democrat, Third Ward) and Robert Iannaccone (Independent, First Ward) were re-elected, defeating Independent Lorena Inestroza and Democrat Oliver Starnes II in their respective districts.

And in the Morris School District race, Nancy Bangiola held off a challenge by former Morristown town Administrator Michael Rogers to win a sixth term representing Morristown on the regional board.

But Bangiola’s colleague, Peter Gallerstein, a trustee for 18 years, lost his Morris Township seat. He finished third to Melissa Spiotta, who was appointed last year to an unexpired term, and Susan Pedalino, a librarian in the Hanover school system. They will represent the Township.

Gallerstein, a cardiologist, trailed Spiotta by nearly 1,100 votes, and Pedalino by almost 700. A fourth candidate, physician Chris Crean, rounded out the field, some 223 votes behind Gallerstein.

Morris Township candidates Susan Pedalino, left, and incumbent Melissa Spiotta were elected to the Morris School District board, Nov. 5, 2019. Incumbent Peter Gallerstein, second from left, lost after 18 years of service. Chris Crean, right, finished fourth. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Peter Mancuso, the lone Republican committeeman, at Morris Township reorganization, Jan. 2, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Peter Mancuso, Morris Township’s the lone Republican committeeman, went to bed on Tuesday with a 48-vote lead. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

In Morris Township’s committee race, incumbent Peter Mancuso appeared to win a seventh term–holding onto the only Republican seat on the governing body–by a 48-vote margin over Democrat William “Bud” Ravitz. 

But Ravitz was not ready to concede before provisional ballots are tallied later this week.

In Morris Plains, home to GOP Assemblyman Jay Webber (who was re-elected in the 26th District) and Frank Druetzler, a Republican who served as mayor for three decades, Democrats Nancy Verga and Joan Goddard, an incumbent, won council seats.


A blizzard of attack mailings and cable TV ads characterized the 25th District state Assembly race, which ended with Republican incumbent Anthony M. Bucco and running mate Brian Bergen, a combat veteran from Denville, defeating Democrats Lisa Bhimani of Mendham and Darcy Draeger of Chester.

About 3,300 votes separated Bucco at the top from Draeger at the bottom.

Victorious: District 25 Assembly GOP Candidates Brian Bergen and incumbent Anthony M. Bucco. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

However, Bucco, a lawyer from Mountain Lakes, will be replaced by a GOP appointment. That’s because he already has been sworn into the state Senate, succeeding his father, who died in September.

During the campaign, Bucco said it was too late to remove his name from the Assembly ballot. His opponents hammered him for it, to no avail.

In Assembly District 25, Republican incumbents BettyLou DeCroce and Webber outpolled Democrats Laura Fortgang and Christine Clarke by comfortable margins.

Statewide, voters approved a  public question to allow veterans to claim their $250 property tax credit when they move to continuing care retirement communities. The measure passed in Morris County with 79 percent of the vote.

Morris County Surrogate-Elect Heather Darling, Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

In Morris County races, Republicans also held sway. Sheriff James Gannon garnered nearly 60 percent of the vote against Democrat William Schievella to coast to a second term.

Republican Freeholder Heather Darling’s numbers were almost as impressive in her victory over Democrat Michael Thompson for county Surrogate.

Incumbent GOP Freeholders Kathy DeFillippo, Doug Cabana and Thomas Mastrangelo all won re-election with cushions of at least 10,000 votes between them and Democratic challengers Cara Parmigiani, Cary Amaro and David Timpanaro.

Thirty-one percent of Morris County’s registered voters came to the polls.


Sandi Mayer got word of her Fourth Ward council victory after hiking all day on an active volcano in New Zealand.

Her dream vacation was planned two years ago, before she decided to challenge Alison Deeb for her Morristown council seat.

Sandi Mayer, Democratic candidate for Morristown council, Fourth Ward, 2019. Photo courtesy of Sandi Mayer.

“I’m thrilled to be representing the 4th Ward and look forward to hearing from my constituents and getting things done,” Mayer said via email.

“I’m not sure what topic carried the day, but I believe that people like positivity and positive actions. Comments were made that were not necessary at the start of the primary election and it might not have been forgotten.”
Deeb initially said she would not seek re-election, asserting she was fed up with politics after a neighbor signed her opponent’s petition.
WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR? Democratic Assembly candidates Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger, District 25. Election Night, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

But on Tuesday, Deeb blamed her defeat on a strong local showing by Democratic Assembly candidates Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger.

“The Democratic Assembly candidates at the top of the ticket got around 520 votes, and the Republican Assembly candidates got around 290. It was a coattail win at the ward level,” Deeb texted.

Mayer is a volunteer on the town Shade Tree Commission, lives in Parsons Village and works for an accounting firm. Her first priority on the council, she said, will be educating herself about issues affecting her constituents.


In the First Ward, Robert Iannaccone’s defeat of Democrat Oliver Starnes II  (410 to 333 votes) turned largely on a strong showing in District One, which includes Iannaccone’s neighborhood. (The First Ward has four voting districts and includes the downtown.)

Victorious First Ward Councilman Robert Iannaccone is flanked by his wife Karen and former First Ward Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman, Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I’m glad the campaign is over. Now I can get back to being a councilman,” said Iannaccone, who won his second term. The CEO of St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark switched from Republican to Independent for this election.

“The lesson I learned from running as an Independent is, people will vote for you as a person, and not a party,” he said.

Councilman Stefan Armington garnered nearly 63 percent of the vote to win a third term. But he said opponent Lorena Inestroza, an Independent, opened his eyes to problems affecting seniors in public housing in the Third Ward.

Inestroza, who has stated she is in recovery from substance abuse, has called attention to drug overdoses in the complex.  Armington plans to meet with Inestroza and her campaign manager, Will Needham, to assess the situation and other concerns.

“She ran a good race for her first time. She got really good numbers and she should try again,” said Armington, a Democrat.

Councilman Stefan Armington, left, gets congratulatory hug from Mayor Tim Dougherty, Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Mayor Tim Dougherty campaigned for Armington and was elated the councilman prevailed over what the mayor called “distorted” rhetoric from Inestroza’s camp. “Stefan stayed positive and true to his values,” Dougherty said.

At the same time, he praised Inestroza and Needham for waging a hard-fought campaign.

The mayor said he looks forward to working with Inestroza in the future. He even suggested making Needham–the son of a former council rival–his campaign manager.

Dougherty also congratulated Iannaccone for his First Ward win, while praising his opponent. “Ollie Starnes did a good job for his first time out,” the mayor said.

Running unopposed, Democrat Tawanna Cotten netted 369 votes in the Second Ward.


The mayor’s biggest disappointment Tuesday was the defeat of his friend, former town Administrator Michael Rogers, in the school board election.

Nancy Bangiola bested Rogers 1080 to 839, in a campaign emphasizing her 15 years of experience, and her belief that the line between school- and municipal governments should not be blurred.

Morris School District board member Nancy Bangiola of Morristown, pictured at 2019 candidates forum, won a sixth term. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“I got outspent by about 10-to-one. (Rogers) did a lot of mailings and old-school kinds of politics. I’m in favor of a more grassroots kind of school board, that’s a representation of parents, taxpayers and the community at a very local level,” said Bangiola, a lawyer and executive director of the Morris County Bar Association.

“Politics at large in the school board arena is not a healthy thing,” she added.

Michael Rogers of Morristown fell short in his bid for the Morris School District board. Photo courtesy of the candidate.

Vij Pawar, Morristown’s town attorney and a political adviser to the mayor, was elected to the board last year.

Bangiola has served with Rogers– “a great candidate and a nice guy”–on the board of the Morristown & Township Library.

“First, congratulations to Nancy,” Rogers, who has a young daughter in the school district, said via text message.

“I am disappointed with the outcome but accept the result, and remain humbled by all my volunteers and supporters in the community. I look forward to the future and continuing to stay engaged on school board matters.”


Retired banker John Thomas, 74, voted in Morristown’s First Ward. ‘I wasn’t really feeling well. But it was one thing I had to do,’ he said on Election Day 2019. Despite traffic concerns, he said he’s pretty happy with the town. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nurse Natalie Lopez, 27, and her realtor mom, Maria Lopez, voted in Morristown’s First Ward on Election Day 2019. ‘I care about the Latin community in Morristown… to be counted,’ said Maria. Even without Hispanic candidates, ‘it’s still important to be part of the voting,’ added Natalie. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Virginia Westerveldt, a 34-year-old engineer, voted in Morristown’s First Ward. ‘I was raised to vote. My parents took me as a child to press the buttons,’ she recounted on Election Day 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Financial planner Michael Fitzpatrick, 40, voted in the First Ward on Election Day 2019. ‘People can’t keep complaining about issues if they’re not coming out to vote,’ he said. While concerned about over-development and hating Morristown’s ‘Sanctuary City’ status, he loves the town and feels ‘blessed to be in a nice area.’ Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gov. Phil Murphy gives pep talk in Morris Township, Election Day 2019. Mayor Jeff Grayzel is in the white slacks. Photo by Lee Goldberg
Victorious Third Ward Councilman Stefan Armington and his wife Margarita on Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi, Election Night 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Voting in Morris Township, Election Day 2019. Photo by Lee Goldberg
Voting in Morris Township, Election Day 2019. Photo by Lee Goldberg

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