It appears that the Democrats have taken control of City Council in Brigantine for the first time since ‘97 — that’s 1897, when the city was founded.

Democratic Councilman Rick DeLucry, the lone incumbent in the race, defeated his Republican challenger Leo Troy in the 4th Ward by an unofficial vote of 531 to 352, while in the 3rd Ward, Democrat Joe Picardi, a retired nurse practitioner, was ahead of Republican Gloria Jacoby by an unofficial count of 522 to 452.

The county hadn’t reported yet for the 2nd Ward, but City Clerk Lynn Sweeney said that Democrat Lisa McClay was ahead of Republican Joseph Campitelli by an unofficial count of 495 to 421. Provisional and mail-in votes have yet to be counted.

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Along with the two at-large seats held by Democrats Tony Pullella and Frank Kern, that would give the Democrats five of six seats on council — a stunning turnaround from just a few years ago, when Pullella was the first Democrat to win a seat in this longtime Republican city since partisan elections began in 1990.

“The first time ever,” said Kern. “It’s an important day for Brigantine. I think the things they hoped for, (such as) open, transparent, fair and equal government, will occur. There will be a true right-sizing of all city departments after an operational audit, and most importantly, I am thrilled that the city, all residents, have come together through this terrible, terrible storm. ... A community like this is just special. That’s why I live here. And that’s why today, they showed they were special.”

In the 1st Ward, Republican Andy Simpson, owner of Brigantine Auto Body, Jolly Roger Marina and Bootlegger Liquors, was ahead of Democrat Dorie Herndon by an unofficial count of 621 to 555.

All four Republican candidates were newcomers, with longtime Republican incumbents Bob Solari, Steve Bonanni and Sam Storino all deciding to step down following an agreement between the regular and “New” Republicans, who had a bitter primary battle in 2011.

As far as the presidential vote, though, Brigantine remained Republican — Mitt Romney received 2,179 votes in the city to 1,861 for President Barack Obama, who visited the city last week following Hurricane Sandy. That was actually less votes for Obama than in 2008, when the president received 2,003 votes to John McCain’s 2,434.

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