Townspeople on November 2 overwhelmingly re-elected Republican Jim Zeoli and his team to continue to lead the town going forward.
Compared to the last election, in 2019, the turnout this year was slightly lower, even though election workers reported brisk traffic almost all day at the High Plains Community Center polls. This year, 5,116 voters came out to vote for their municipal leaders; compared to 5,221 two years ago. Out of 10,804 eligible voters, that translates to a participation rate of 47.2% for the 2021 election; and 50.4 % in 2019 (out of 10,357 eligible voters).
Compared to the pre-pandemic election, many residents this year took advantage of absentee voting, with 668 ballots cast ahead of Election Day. However, ten of those were rejected, according to the report to the Secretary of the State. In 2019, only half as many voted by absentee, namely 337.
Some 17 people showed up for Election Day registration, the form shows.
With 3,039 votes Zeoli decisively won the seat at the head of the table, and his challenger, Democrat Connor Deane, also will also be seated, with 2,003 votes.
Zeoli thanked voters for their support. “Thank you everyone for putting your trust in me and the entire Z team to continue to guide the Town of Orange,” he posted on Facebook. “I am honored and humbled to receive your trust!”
For Deane, this was the first foray into the world of local politics. “I am really proud of our campaign,” he said after being sworn in as a selectman. “I think our message resonated with voters.”
Dean will join with Democrat Mitch Goldblatt, who received 2,416 votes; and returning to the Board of Selectmen will be Republicans Ralph Okenquist (2,830), John Carangelo (2,887) and Judy Wright Williams ($2,866).
Democrat Margaret Novicki lost her bid for the Town Clerk’s position to Mary Shaw, 2,038 to 2,937. The Republican candidate for tax collector, Thomas Hurley, won with 2,858 votes to beat Mark Moyher (2,043 votes).
Democrats lost a seat on the Board of Finance, where neither PJ Shanley nor Pat Romano will be returning to the table. Instead, Democrat Kevin McNabola had a strong showing with $2,481 votes. Republican incumbent Joseph Nuzzo (2,914) will be joined by Ajeet Jain (2,595).
The Plan and Zoning Board is unchanged, with Republicans filling four of the five seats. Chairman Ozzie Parente (3,004), Kevin Cornell (2,963) and Thomas Torrenti (3,328) were all re-elected, with Democrat Paul Kaplan not up for re-election until two years’ time. He and vice chair Judy Smith are up for re-election in 2023.
Jeffery Cap, the Republican vice chair of the Orange Board of Education, was re-elected with 2,878 votes. He will be joined by Republicans Tatiana Messina-Mullen and Ronnette James (2,804 and 2,745, respectively). On the Democratic side, Carmen Rodrigues was re-elected (1,994) along with Liz Tremper (1, 993). The other half of that board, namely Susan Riccio, Betty Hadlock, Kenneth Vitelli, Ken Ziman and Bill Kraut, will be up for re-election in 2023.
The Orange delegation to the Amity school board will include one Democrat incumbent, Carla Eichler, and two Republican newcomers, Sean Hartshorn and Christina Levere-D’Addio. The other members of the delegation, John Belfonti, Christopher Browe, Paul Davis and Shannon Carlson, are not up for re-election until 2023.
The seven constables on the ballot were all voted into office. They are Republicans Glenn Papelo, (2,538), Jody Daymon (2,781), Dan Zapatka (2,549); and Michael Donadeo (2,674); as well as Democrats Santo Galatioto, Jr. (2,242), Randy Thomas (2,281) and Jay Carrier (1,775),
The Probate Judge position is a shared position between the Town of Orange and the City of Milford. Both parties’ candidates — Win Smith and Ben Gettinger — are from Milford, and this contest was close enough to require a recount. The recount confirmed Ben Gettinger as the winner in that race, according to Town Clerk Pat O’Sullivan.
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent