VINELAND — If the results of Tuesday’s election are any indication, Mayor Robert Romano and his City Council slate should do well in the Dec. 4 runoff elections.
Voting machine tallies show residents cast more ballots for Romano, 7,748, than any of the other four mayoral hopefuls, and his City Council candidates easily outpaced their competition.
Still to be counted by the Cumberland County Board of Elections are several thousand vote-by-mail ballots. The final vote totals will not be known until that happens.
But Ruben Bermudez, who finished second in the mayoral balloting according to the voting machine count and will, barring any changes, run against Romano on Dec. 4, says he is not deterred by the numbers.
Bermudez said he is meeting with his campaign staff to figure out a way to close the 2,851-vote gap between him and Romano. Bermudez said part of the plan will likely involve convincing many of the voters who cast ballots for the three other unsuccessful mayoral candidates — City Councilman Douglas Albrecht, former Mayor Perry Barse and David Mazur — to support him in the runoff.
Residents cast 4,101 votes for Barse, 2,146 for Albrecht and 245 votes for Mazur.
“Most of the people who voted for them, I believe they want to see government change because of the direction it has taken for the last four years,” Bermudez said. “They have the opportunity to come on board.”
Romano contends that Bermudez is in “la la land” if he thinks he can make up vote gap.
“You know how hard it is to make that up in three weeks?” Romano said. “It’s almost impossible. He would have to get twice the votes he got (on Tuesday.) Just the numbers alone say that I have the support.”
Depending on their post-election plans, Albrecht, Mazur and Barse could have some influence on the runoff elections.
Albrecht said he plans to meet with Mazur to discuss possibly supporting Romano. Albrecht ran on Romano’s successful City Council ticket four years ago, but the two men have since drifted apart politically.
Romano contends that Barse will likely support Bermudez, saying the two men seemed to be working together to “squeeze me out” during the campaign. Barse could not be reached for comment.
Mayoral runoff elections are held when no mayoral candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote. City law then allows residents to pick a mayor from the top two vote-getters. Romano garnered nearly 41 percent of the vote.
A runoff election for City Council occurs when no two candidates get more than 50 percent of the vote. City Councilwoman Mayra Arroyo got more votes than other City Council candidate, but the 6,779 ballots cast for her only amounted to more than nine percent of the vote.
The top 10 City Council vote-getters as per the voting machine tallies provided by the Vineland Clerk’s Office are Arroyo, Maria LaBoy with 6,559 votes, incumbent Peter Coccaro with 6,422 votes, Nelson Thompson with 5,684 votes, Antonio Romero with 5,637 votes, Anthony Fanucci with 4, 394 votes, John Procopio with 4,122 votes, Paul Spinelli with 4,001 votes, Maritza Gonzalez with 3,712 votes, and Carlos Villar with 3,636 votes. Angela Calakos was 11th with 3,627 votes.
Arroyo, LaBoy, Coccaro, Thompson and Romero are all members of Romano’s “Proven Progress” slate. Fanucci, Spinelli and Villar were on Barse’s “Vineland Taxpayers First” slate. Procopio and Gonzalez ran with Bermudez under the “Moving Forward … Together” slogan.
There remains the possibility that City Council could have members of all three tickets for the next four years.
“I can work with anybody,” Bermudez said.
The other City Council candidates were Calakos, Delfin Cuevas, Gina Randazzo-Thompson, Diamaris Rios, Terra Dower, Edwin Cintron, Louis Cresci and Stephen I. Plevin.
Cresci is an incumbent who also ran on Romano’s successful ticket four years ago.
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