By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — By a nearly 2-1 margin, John Pallone was elected mayor of Long Branch Tuesday night, unseating incumbent Adam Schneider who held the office for seven terms, since 1990.
His five-member council team, who ran with him under the slogan Long Branch First – Dr. Mary Jane Celli, Lorenzo “Bill” Dangler, Rose Widdis, Mario Vieira and Dr. Anita Voogt – were elected in a clean sweep.
Pallone took 16 of the city’s 17 districts, and more than 62 percent of the votes cast for mayor, 2,908 out of 4,719, according to unofficial results from the County Clerk’s office. Schneider took Schneider took 33 percent of the vote, 1,549, and another candidate, Avery Grant, took 257 votes, about five percent.
Turnout was high. For contrast, in 2014’s race between Schneider and Grant, less than 2,700 votes were cast for both candidates combined.
The races weren’t close on the council front either, with all five members of the Long Branch First slate easily winning, with 588 votes separating the lowest vote getter on the team from their nearest competitor.
Pallone, unfortunately, could not attend his victory celebration at the IAMA on Tuesday night, as he was in the hospital due to emergency heart bypass. He was recovering and expected to be home on Thursday.
However his wife, Svetlana, and son, John Jr., were there Tuesday night to celebrate with the large crowd at the IAMA. Dr. Celli read a speech Pallone had prepared.
“We are here because of you guys,” Svetlana told the crowd.
“We will always remember our slogan,” Celli read. “Thank you to our voters who believe in our vision of a city where every neighborhood gets the attention they deserve and every citizen is treated with respect.”
Pallone had run on a campaign that Schneider was focusing too much on the oceanfront and not paying enough attention to other neighborhoods of the city. In his speech, Pallone thanked his brother, Congressman Frank Pallone who he joked “has some experience in politics,” his wife and son, and his father Frank Sr., who passed away two years ago.
John said his father, a WW2 veteran, who served as a volunteer fireman and a police officer in the city, “taught me the value of public service.”
Celli, the lone incumbent who will be returning to council when the new slate is sworn in, said she was happy with the residents’ decision.
“I’m delighted the residents elected me again. I’m very proud to be elected a council member for the seventh time,” she said. “I have a good team to work with.”
Dangler said that this was truly a team effort, and many people assisted the Long Branch First team. He mentioned he was grateful so many millennials had participated. He also said that they had a lot of advice from experienced people offering valuable advice.
“People like Barry Stein, Ricardo, Joe Ferraina, would say, ‘Bill, something is wrong. You’ve got to listen.’ It paid off. It paid off.”
Voogt also thanked the citizens for their support. “We made it happen,” she said.
“It has truly been an experience like no other,” said Widdis, saying she had worked with “such amazing people. We want citizens of Long Branch to know you have spoken.”
Vieira said that he had spoken from his heart while campaigning, and would continue to do so as a councilman. He also said that by campaigning, he feels his family has grown. “Now you’re part of it,” he told the crowd.