MONROE – Democratic incumbent Mayor Stephen Dalina will continue serving as mayor of Monroe Township.
And the Monroe Township Council and Monroe Board of Education (BOE) will reorganize with some new members.
Projected winners in the Nov. 2 election remain as election results were recently certified.
Dalina faced Republican candidate Steve Martin for the late Mayor Gerald Tamburro’s unexpired two-year term.
Dalina was appointed to fill Tamburro’s seat on Jan. 20.
Tamburro passed away on Dec. 31, 2020. He was 84.
Dalina, with 11,627 votes, beat Martin, with 9,411 votes.
There were nine write-in votes.
Leading up to the election, Dalina said “public safety remains a top priority, while I also want to further strengthen our superior township services, continue to stabilize municipal taxes, fight truck traffic from surrounding towns, preserve at least 50% of Monroe’s land area as permanent open space and work with the community to find new opportunities to improve our quality of life.
“I’ve directed a full review of the municipal master plan this summer with thousands of residents participating,” he said. “My team will be using the information to find new ways to serve residents such as with more sports fields, playgrounds, small business areas, walking trails and other places where our residents want to be.”
Monroe Township Council
There were elections for three, four-year term ward seats and a two-year unexpired term for council-at-large on the Monroe Township Council.
Unexpired term: Democratic candidate Terrence G. Van Dzura, with 10,808 votes, beat Republican candidate Peter Tufano, who received 9,850 votes. Van Dzura was appointed on Feb. 1 to fill the council-at-large seat vacated by Dalina.
There were 10 write-in votes.
Leading up to the election, Van Dzura said he would like to continue “towards our goal of preserving 50% of Monroe as open space and use my understanding of the law to work around unnecessary development.”
“I am proud that the first budget introduced since the mayor (Dalina) and I came into office in January and February, respectively, decreased municipal taxes and will work towards maintaining our AA+ bond rating and keeping Monroe affordable,” he said.
Ward 1: Democratic incumbent Elizabeth “Betty” Schneider, with 4,489 votes, defeated Republican candidate Melody Amantea-Henry, who received 2,987 votes.
There were three write-in votes.
Leading up to the election, Schneider, who will serve her third term, said she was running for re-election “because I am proud of the work I was able to accomplish on the council so far and want to continue that work.”
Schneider said her main concern is senior issues noting her ward is home to several senior communities.
Ward 2: Democratic candidate Rupa P. Siegel, with 3,980 votes, beat Republican candidate Timothy Eosso, who received 3,437 votes.
There were seven write-in votes.
Leading up to the election, Siegel, who will serve her first term, said she was running for council “because I want Monroe to have strong leadership” and “help make Monroe the best version of itself.”
Siegel, who will become the first Southeast Asian to serve on council in January, said her experience on the school board the last two years has prepared her to serve as a councilwoman.
Incumbent Ward 2 Councilman Leonard Baskin, a Democrat, did not seek re-election.
Ward 3: Republican incumbent Charles Dipierro, with 3,200 votes, was elected over Democratic candidate Alton B. Kinsey II, who received 2,613 votes.
There were three write-in votes.
Leading up to the election, Dipierro, who will serve his second term, said a priority if re-elected would be “to work on stabilizing along with cutting expenses to reduce taxes.”
“Monroe is a growing town and I would work on the overbuilding,” he said. “I would support more commercial building with the new Master Plan. I would work for a township-wide contract for cable, trash [and] electric.”
Monroe Board of Education
There were elections for three, three-year seats on the Monroe school board.
Katie Fabiano, with 8,159 votes, Gazala Bohra, with 6,260 votes, and Kate Rattner, with 6,147 votes, won against four other candidates for the three seats.
All candidates will serve their first terms on the board.
Sean E. Regan followed with 5,384 votes, Linda M. Bozowski received 4,875 votes, Sarah Aziz received 3,989 votes and Neha Desai received 3,058 votes.
There were 89 write-in votes.
Before the election, the candidates shared what they would like to focus on if elected.
Bohra said student success should be the “North Star” for every Board of Education.
“Their responsibility is to ensure the education provided to the student is the best the community can afford,” she said. “Today, many factors impacting student success in our town are tied to the overcrowding issues in our schools. This needs to be addressed [as soon as possible] with a plan that is acceptable to the taxpayers who are paying for almost 90% of our school budget as a result of the lack of adequate state funding. I will work to find a solution that expands our schools with the least impact on our taxes.”
Fabiano said one area that she would like to concentrate on is “expanding our schools in a fiscally responsible manner.”
“Our schools are at their maximum capacity, and we need the space to accommodate our currently 1,500 unhoused students,” she said. “Our administration owes it to the entire community to explore all options from renovations and expansions to new construction. We need a plan that not only meets our current needs, but allows for the accommodation of anticipated future growth.”
Rattner said one area she would like to concentrate on is “improving our mental health resources for students, staff and the community.”
“Our counselor-to-student ratio is significantly higher than surrounding communities,” she said. “Unless students are struggling academically or required as part of an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 to receive counseling, our counselors don’t have the bandwidth to help all of our students to the amount that should be done. We should also have parent academies, where parents/guardians are given training on recognizing depression/anxiety, monitoring social media and more.”
Andy Paluri, Peter Tufano and Rupa Siegel did not seek re-election.