SOMERVILLE, NJ -Tim Pino, a former captain in the Somerset County Sheriff’s office who ran a spirited campaign and thrived on his outsider status, narrowly lost Tuesday’s Republican Primary election to North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti, who had the backing of the Somerset County Republican Party and Sheriff Frank Provenzano, who will be retiring at the end of this year.
The margin of victory for Parenti was 223 votes, who received a total of 6,944 votes. Pino’s vote total was 6,721.
In Somerville, Pino received 188 votes and Parenti received 163 votes.
Pino was endorsed by the Somerset County Sheriff’s police union.
All results are unofficial for at least 48 hours pending the receipt and counting of absentee ballots, according to Somerset County Clerk Steve Peter.
Parenti 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.
In Somerville, Russo received 195 votes, while hometown favorite Akins received 480 votes.
Deputy Freeholder Director Pat Walsh, who has served on the board since 2008, won the Republican Primary over challenger Robert Quinn by a 62 to 38 percent margin. Walsh received 8,217 votes, while Quinn received 5,016.
Walsh will be running against Democrat Melonie Marano, a former Green Brook mayor, who along with Russo, have been endorsed by the Somerset County Democratic Committee.
Walsh and Marano faced off in the 2007 Freeholder race, won by Walsh.
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.
Locally, the Republican and Democratic slates are both endorsed by the local political parties and were running unopposed for mayor and three borough council seats in Somerville.
All 4 Democratic candidates are incumbents: Borough Democrats are backing Mayor Dennis Sullivan, who received 650 votes; Councilwoman Jane Kobuta, 645 votes; Council President Granville Brady, 640 votes and Councilman Roger Vroom, 617 votes. He was appointed late last year to fill the vacancy created when Sullivan was elected mayor in November, defeating interim Republican Mayor Ellen Brain.
The Republicans nominated Phil Decker for mayor, who received 335 votes; Hank Werner, a retired police officer who ran for a Borough Council seat last year, 339 votes and Fred Picchiello, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2016, 339 votes. The GOP ticket will be filled out by newcomer Mario Haddad, whose name did not appear on the ballot because of a late filing. There were several dozen GOP write-in votes.
Running unopposed for reelection in the 16th Assembly District are Democrat incumbents Andrew Zwicker and Roy Freiman. In Somerville, Zwicker received 571 votes and Freiman, 547 votes.
The GOP candidates for 16th District Assembly seats are former Montgomery mayor and Somerset County Freeholder Mark Caliguire, who ran unsuccessfully against Freiman for Assembly two years ago, who received 2,633 votes, and former Montgomery mayor Christine Madrid, who received 2,325 votes.
In Somerville, Caliguire received 244 votes and Madrid received 197 votes.
Roger LoCandro, a 24-year-old resident of Stockton in Hunterdon County, was also a Republican candidate in the 16th District Primary, and received 160 votes in Somerville and a total of 1.556 in the 16th District.
Total vote count in Somerville was 369 Republican voters and 687 Democratic voters, a total of 1,056 votes, a small percentage of the 7,403 registered voters who live in the county seat.