Recount results: Connelly wins Eatontown mayoral race

By Greg Kennelty Staff Writer

The results of a ballot recount did not change the outcome of the contested mayoral election in Eatontown.

During a methodical recount of ballots on Nov. 24 at the Monmouth County Board of Elections in Freehold, Republican Councilman Dennis Connelly emerged the winner by the same two-vote margin, barely edging out current Mayor Gerald Tarantolo, a Democrat, who requested the recount.

While the count of ballots cast Nov. 4 at voting machines in each district in the borough remained the same, Connelly picked up one more provisional ballot vote and Tarantolo received one more mail-in ballot.

Connelly initially had four provisional ballots to Tarantolo’s one, while Tarantolo initially had 99 mail-in votes to Connelly’s 90.

Board of Elections chair Leah Falk announced the results before a room full of board officials, the mayoral contenders and their supporters

“I was not [nervous] until the final count. Then I was a little bit nervous I have to say. I did not sleep so well last night,” said Connelly.

 Tarantolo did not comment.

The recount began in the voting machine depot room, where each the vote count for each machine was printed out and read off to determine if they matched the original results. In all, there were 18 machines for the nine voting districts within the borough.

After the votes were printed out, the group of officials, accompanied by Tarantolo and Connelly, headed to a separate room where each of the mail-in ballots and provisional ballots cast were read off and counted by two board of elections officials to ensure accuracy.

A mail-in vote for Tarantolo that was filled out incorrectly was discarded after it was decided that, while the board could ask for a judicial ruling on whether to count the vote, the one vote would not make a difference in the outcome of the race.

After the votes were tallied and Connelly, who is council president, was announced as the winner, he and Tarantolo stood up, shook hands and congratulated each other on the close race.

The results before the recount posted on the board’s website showed Tarantolo with 1,479 votes and challenger Connelly with 1,481 votes.

The outcome of the recount showed Tarantolo with 1,480 and Connelly with 1,482. A total of the 2,969 votes were cast, including the vote that was not properly filled out.

Recount results showed Connelly won the mayor’s seat in six of the nine voting districts in Eatontown.

According to the Board of Elections website, voters in District 1 cast 155 votes for Connelly and 147 for Tarantolo; in District 2, 123 votes went to Connelly and 153 to Tarantolo; voters in District 3 cast 208 votes for Connelly and 158 for Tarantolo; in District 4, 249 votes were cast for Connelly and 195 for Tarantolo; and in District 5, 78 votes went to Connelly and 15 to Tarantolo.

Additionally, voters in District 6 cast 129 votes for Connelly and 186 for Tarantolo with two write in votes; in district 7 189 votes went to Connelly and 206 to Tarantolo; in District 8, 120 votes were cast for Connelly and 51 for Tarantolo, including two write in votes; and voters in District 9 cast 136 votes for Connelly and 128 for Tarantolo.

Tarantolo has been the mayor of Eatontown since 1999 and served on the council for 14 years before he became mayor.