EATONTOWN – Five newcomers will join the Eatontown Borough Council in January following a Republican sweep in the Nov. 5 election.
At present, the members of the all-Democratic governing body are Councilwoman Jasmine Story, Councilwoman Tanya Rivera, Councilwoman Christine Caruso, Councilman Greg Loxton and council President Al Baginsky.
Story will remain on the council during 2020.
Caruso, Loxton and Rivera were appointed to the council earlier this year to fill vacancies. Their terms will end in December, as will the term held by Baginsky, who was defeated on Election Day.
In January, Republicans Kevin Gonzalez, Maria Grazia Escalante, Joseph Olsavsky, Mark Regan Jr. and Edwin Palenzuela will join the council.
In the race for two three-year terms on the council, Gonzalez and Escalante defeated Baginsky and Rivera. As of Nov. 11, Gonzalez (1,403 votes) and Escalante (1,373 votes) lead Baginsky (1,022 votes) and Rivera (990 votes).
In the race for a two-year unexpired term, Olsavsky has defeated Democrat James David. As of Nov. 11, Olsavsky had 1,358 votes and David had 1,033 votes.
In the race for two one-year unexpired terms, Regan and Palenzuela have defeated Democrat Renata Bodner. As of Nov. 11, Regan (1,479 votes) and Palenzuela (1,439 votes) lead Bodner (1,044 votes).
In a statement provided by the Republicans, the winners said, “It’s a new day in Eatontown and we are honored the residents have put their faith in our team and our message. It is evident to us that we were not alone in our dissatisfaction with the current council and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community.
“Our homegrown campaign promised to provide residents with stable leadership, fiscal accountability, support for small business, responsible economic growth and improved curbside services to our borough.
“We assure our constituents we will tackle all of our promises with fervor, and we will continue to do what is best for our community without regard for personal gain. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we look forward to working with (independent) Mayor Anthony Talerico and (Democratic) Councilwoman Jasmine Story.”
In a subsequent interview, Mark Regan, who is the Republican chairman in Eatontown and the father of councilman-elect Mark Regan Jr., said the election was not a matter of Republicans vs. Democrats.
“We were looking at (the election) as what was better for the town,” Regan said. “We actually had a lot of Democrats supporting us this year … For the (Borough Council) to lose four council members this year is crazy.
“(The newly elected members) just want to help the small businesses in town; economic growth is going to help everybody. It has to be done correctly. We need borough professionals to help us, but it seems like they are (quitting), too,” Regan said.
In October, Borough Attorney Gene Anthony announced his departure at the end of his contract in December. Anthony publicly admonished the council members for disregarding and challenging his professional advice.
Also in October, Business Administrator Cherron Rountree, Zoning Officer Erik Brachman and Spencer Carpenter, the director of public works, resigned. Rountree accepted a position as the township administrator in Holmdel.
Regan said Gonzalez, Escalante, Olsavsky, Regan and Palenzuela are a good team.
“(The newly elected council members) will be like talking to your neighbor,” he said. “These are the best people who will help represent everyone in town and they are from all parts of the town.”