The mood was triumphant at the victory party held by Hazlet Democrats at Assaginni di Roma on election night.
Former Recreation Director Barbara Ronchetti, and former Pop Warner organizer Jim DiNardo were toasted by supporters for winning their campaigns. Together with Committeeman Joseph Belasco, the Democrats will now have the majority on the split board. The other two members are Republican Party members Michael Sachs and Scott Aagre.
DiNardo, with 4,529 votes and Ronchetti, with 4,340 votes, beat Republican Tinker, with 3,960 votes and Brady, with 3,861.
Ronchetti was happy to announce the Democrat's new plans. "We are looking to put solar panels at the swim club to save electricity, and we're going to get grants for more road improvement projects," she said.
DiNardo added, "We'll open everything up to the public and make sure we're transparent," he said.
First on the list is bringing the Township Committee's workshop meeting out of the small meeting room and back out into the public meeting room where the public can more easily observe the meeting, she said.
Over at Lakeside Manor, faces were glum and the mood was very low. After a difficult week of leading Hazlet throught the post-Hurricane Sandy aftermath, Mayor David Tinker appeared to be somewhere between stunned and fatigued by the news of the loss. "I have no comment," he said, before leaving the table he was sitting at with runningmate James Brady.
Brady said he was "shocked" to have lost to the Democrats but said he believed that the electorate was influenced by "the top of the ticket," referring to President Barack Obama.
"Let's see what happens in Hazlet in a couple of years," he said. "The people of Hazlet have spoken. Now it's their problem," he said.