GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The former mayor who lost a legal battle over his council seat last month was defeated Tuesday in his bid for re-election.
Keith Hartman, a Republican who was first elected to council in 2007, was the lowest vote-getter in unofficial tallies. His 2,424 votes set him more more than 1,100 behind incumbent Councilman Anthony Coppola Jr.
Hartman did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday night. On Monday, however, he posted a message in a Facebook group thanking his supporters for restoring his faith in the community.
“Good government and freedom come at a price — a price that we all are willing to pay in our own ways. I am honored to be the instrument of that for you,” Hartman wrote. “Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, we can all be proud of the efforts we have made to continue to fight for what we believe in.”
Hartman briefly suspended his re-election campaign in September, citing threats made against his family, which he later said also prevented him from attending council meetings and thus led to his removal from council.
The Republicans held a 6-1 majority on council this year. That split will remain with Tuesday’s election results. Republican newcomer Brian Tyrrell and Coppola both won seats, with 3,407 votes and 3,549 votes, respectively. Jim Gorman, the lone Democratic councilman, retained his seat with 3,458 votes.
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Gorman, who has been vocal about his disapproval of Hartman’s actions, said he was surprised Hartman got as many votes as he did.
“With all the drama and nonsense that was going on, I’m disappointed that (the Democrats) didn’t pick up a seat,” Gorman said.
Both Coppola and Tyrrell attributed their wins to running a clean campaign amid a tumultuous year in township politics.
“We managed to stay away from the drama. I think that’s what people want. My focus now is to bring stability back to Galloway Township,” Coppola said. “We’re one of the largest municipalities in Atlantic County. It’s about time we started acting like it.”
Tyrrell, a professor of hospitality and tourism management at Richard Stockton College, said he knocked on almost 2,000 doors while campaigning.
“There’ve been a lot of distractions in this campaign,” he said. “Every time there was some distraction, I laced up my shoes and went knocking on doors.”
Democratic newcomers Kevin Krumaker and Jim McElwee garnered 2,924 and 2,718 votes, respectively. Krumaker did not immediately return calls Tuesday night. But his running mate said he may consider another run in the future.
“I’ll continue to try to serve Galloway in some form and maybe make another run the next time a seat comes up,” McElwee said.
Galloway Township Council will meet tonight and appoint a new councilman to serve the remainder of Hartman’s term, which includes just three meetings. Galloway Township Republican League municipal leader Terry Lucarelli has said the candidates are Tyrrell, Robert Chester and Tom Dase.
In the township’s form of government, council appoints a mayor from among the elected candidates each year and also will appoint a mayor tonight, to serve for the remainder of the year.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan: