SOMERVILLE, NJ - It’s the people who did not go to the polling places June 4 who will determine the official outcome of the 2019 GOP Primary election for Somerset County Sheriff.
The unofficial vote totals posted by the Somerset County Clerk’s Office at 11:30 p.m. Election Night showed North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti the winner by a margin of 226 votes over Tim Pino, a retired captain in the Somerset County Sheriff's Department.
As of Primary night, Parenti had received 6,981 votes; Pino's vote count was 6,755.
Those totals do not include absentee ballots or provisional ballots mailed by voters, according to Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter. The County Board of Elections was tasked with certifying the mail in and provisional ballots last week, with those numbers expected to be released 10 a.m. Monday, Peter said,
Mail-in votes were accepted as late as Thursday.
"At Monday, 10 a.m. those votes will be counted, added to the total and we'll see wehre we are," Peter said last week. "Were in a holding pattern unti Monday."
Pino ran a spirited campaign and thrived on his outsider status. He was endorsed by the Somerset County Sheriff Officer's union. Parenti had the backing of the Somerset County Republican Party and Sheriff Frank Provenzano, who will be retiring at the end of this year after serving 50 years in law enforcement including the Bridgewater Police Department.
The winner of the GOP Primary will face off against Democrat Darren Russo, a retired Franklin Township police lieutenant who ran unsuccessfully against Provenzano three years ago, losing narrowly by 600 votes. Tuesday night he won the right to try again, receiving 6,873 votes. He was opposed by Somerville resident Art Atkins, a former police officer in Bridgewater, who received 4,657 votes.
A total of 26,178 votes were cast in the Primary locally. The vote total represented 11.1 percent of the 235,929 registered voters in Somerset County.