SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Months of political sparring in the form of campaign literature and online debates came to a head Tuesday night. On Election Day 2018, thousands of residents took to the polls, returning all three Republican incumbents to the South Plainfield governing body.

South Plainfield voters re-elected Matt Anesh as mayor, making him the first Republican in borough history elected to a third consecutive mayoral term. Additionally, Republican incumbents Robert Bengivenga, Jr. and Joseph Wolak were also re-elected to the council. Wolak was re-elected to his second consecutive term while Bengivenga becomes the first member to ever serve five terms.

Based on unofficial vote totals (minus absentee ballots) as of press time, Anesh received 4,806 votes to defeat Democratic Party challenger Sandy Doyon who garnered 3,336 votes. Bengivenga and Wolak received 4,579 and 4,510 votes, respectively, to defeat Democratic Party challengers Kristine Keefe, who received 3,520 votes, and Sherri Zwerko, who received 3,390 votes. 

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Members of the Democratic Party gathered at Sherban’s Diner to wait for vote totals to come in but, shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m., Senator Patrick Diegnan announced that this year’s election did not go as they had hoped. 

“These three women put up a tremendous fight in a very tough year,” Diegnan said, adding, “The nice thing about South Plainfield is that it is a nice town and everyone loves living here and obviously they are satisfied with the direction of our town, but that in no way, shape, or form minimizes the quality of our candidates this year.” 

Mayoral candidate Doyon, thanking her supporters, family, and running mates, added, “Thank you very much for your support; we really appreciate it. We really have been a great team. I am sorry about the results, but I am still happy to be here. It was a great experience and I would do it again. We are not going away.”

Around the corner at Republican headquarters on Old Hamilton Boulevard, supporters and candidates gathered to celebrate their party’s victory. 

“We did it… and we really did it,” said Republican Chair April Bengivenga.  “This is a wonderful night.” 

Bengivenga, Jr. thanked his wife, parents, fellow Republican councilmembers, and supporters and announced that ‘history was made on two fronts’ during this year’s election. “Number one, Mayor Anesh was elected to a third term, which to my knowledge, a Republican mayor has never done and is only the second person in the history of South Plainfield to serve three terms,” said Bengivenga. “The second thing that happened tonight…I have the privilege of being the only person in the history of South Plainfield to serve five terms on the council. 

“I want to thank each and every one of you and the residents of South Plainfield for putting their trust in Matt, Joe, and me and our team so that we continue to get it done for South Plainfield…” added Bengivenga, Jr. “We will deliver results. We will make you proud."

Wolak added, “Thank you everyone for all your support. It is fantastic the amount of support and I really appreciate it.”  

Anesh, thanking his wife Kimberly, sons, members of the Republican party and supporters, spoke of how his journey as a South Plainfield elected official began in 2005. “I never imagined that we would be here tonight and I think that is because of the people who are invested in this town and who are doing the right things for this town…” 

The mayor added, “I look forward to the next four years [and] don’t see anything else but great things for South Plainfield. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am humbled to serve a third term as your mayor.”

South Plainfield mayoral terms are four years and council terms are three years; Anesh, Bengivenga, and Wolak will be sworn in at the borough’s January 2019 reorganization meeting. 

South Plainfield Board of Education Results

On Election Day 2018, four candidates were also vying for three at-large seats on the South Plainfield Board of Education (BOE). As of press time, unofficial totals (minus absentee and provisional ballots) show incumbent Doug Chapman along with John Farinella and Sharon Miller each garnering a three-year term on the BOE; William Seesselberg, the BOE’s current president, lost his bid to a fourth consecutive term. 

Chapman received 3,184 votes to secure his second consecutive term; Farinella, a former BOE member who lost his bid for re-election in 2017, received 3,110 votes; Miller, also a former BOE member who lost her re-election bid last year, received 2,879 votes; and Seesselberg received 2,522 votes. 

South Plainfield BOE terms are three years; Chapman, Farinella, and Miller will be sworn in at district’s January 2019 reorganization meeting.

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