Roxbury Lawyer Heather Darling Wins GOP Primary for Freeholder; Uncontested Local Races Keep Most Voters Home

Heather Darling Credits: Heather Darling
Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee, standing, watches election results. Seated are Mayor Mark Crowley and his wife Andrea, Councilman Bob DeFillippo and Councilman Gary Behrens

ROXBURY, NJ – Fewer than a sixth of Roxbury Township’s registered voters bothered to cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election, a ho-hum affair – at least on the local level – since there were no contested races for Roxbury Township Committee nomination.

A more exciting race, the contest for Republican nomination for a Morris County freeholder seat, ended with Succasunna lawyer Heather Darling squeaking out a victoryover three other GOP candidates. Darling received 8,783 votes, Dave Scapicchio took 8,473 votes, Nicholas Platt received 7,766 and Mike Crispi got 2,158, according to the Morris County Board of Elections.

Darling will face Democrat Rozella Clyde in the November general election.

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Roxbury has about 16,000 registered votes. Only 2,236 of them cast ballots in the primary. The biggest vote-getter was veteran Roxbury Councilman Jim Rilee - a Republican seeking re-election to a 3-year, at-large seat – who received 1,002 votes.

Neither he nor fellow Republican township committee incumbents Robert DeFillippo and Roxbury Mayor Mark Crowley were challenged in the primary. Crowley received 971 votes and 994 members of the GOP voted for DeFillippo.

The real fight for the incumbents will come in November, when they face three Democrats who also easily won nomination by their party’s voters Tuesday: Sean Cope, Aaron Markworth and Lawrence Jones. Running uncontested for the three council seats, Cope secured 635 votes, Markworth got 616 votes and Jones received 607.

Although Roxbury has significantly fewer registered Democrats than it does Republicans, the 2015 general election proved that GOP victories are not necessarily guaranteed. In that election, incumbent Roxbury Councilman Martin Schmidt, a Republican, lost to a young Democrat and political novice: Dan Kline

Even though they ran uncontested, Rilee, Crowley and DeFillippo gathered at the Roxbury Municipal Building after polls closed and stared at a wall where election workers displayed a spreadsheet showing vote tallies. When the delayed final count was announced by Roxbury Township Clerk Amy Rhead at about 9:40 p.m., the three men congratulated each other and shook hands.

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