SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Thousands of South Plainfield residents headed to the polls Tuesday with this year’s election bringing new faces to both the borough council and the board of education.

In the race for South Plainfield Borough Council, Democrats Jon Dean and Gary Vesce garnered the two at-large seats, defeating Republicans Ray Rusnak (the incumbent) and Stephanie Bartfalvi. As of press time, unofficial totals (minus absentee ballots) had Dean receiving 4,448 votes and Vesce receiving 4,311 votes; Bartfalvi earned 4,232 votes and Rusnak received 4,115 votes.

Democrats gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in Woodbridge to wait for vote totals to come in. After learning he had secured a seat, Dean told TAPinto South Plainfield that he hadn’t really prepared a speech. “I am speechless,” he said, adding, “I want to thank everyone who came out and voted. I just want to do what is best for South Plainfield and I am looking forward to progressing our town forward.”

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Vesce, who had an unsuccessful bid for the council last year, said, “I ran last year and I was sad and disappointed but not discouraged enough to run this year. I am looking forward to working with the council, doing good things for the people of South Plainfield and the unique experiences to come.”

Rusnak, who was seeking re-election to his fourth term, said, “Obviously, these are not the results we were looking for but I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years I have represented South Plainfield.”

Bartfalvi added, “We knew it was an uphill battle but we ran a clean campaign. Congratulations to the Jon and Gary.”

Dean and Vesce will be sworn in at the South Plainfield Borough Council’s Jan. 1, 2017 reorganization meeting.

This year’s South Plainfield Board of Education election saw six candidates vying for three at-large seats. Incumbents Debbie Boyle and Steve Bohn were both seeking re-election while Ernie ‘Jim’ Giannakis and Pio Pennisi were looking to regain seats. Newcomers Tom Cassio and Jennifer Curtis were also hoping to garner seats.

As of press time, unofficial totals (minus absentee ballots) posted indicate that Boyle, Cassio, and Giannakis each earned a three-year term. Cassio received 3,477 votes; Giannakis received 2,952; and Boyle received 2,769 while Pennisi received 2,153 votes; Curtis received 1,965 votes; and Bohn received 1,798.

Boyle extended her thanks to all those who elected her to a fourth consecutive term on the board of education. “Thank you to all my supporters who kept their faith in me as a voice of the people,” said Boyle. “I am looking forward to working as a team and moving the South Plainfield School District forward for all kids because they are all special.”

Giannakis, who served on the board education for three consecutive terms (2005-2015) but fell short in his re-election bid for a fourth term last November, said he is looking forward to being back on the board. “I am ecstatic and I want to thank all the voters for putting their confidence back in me. I will do my best to put the focus back on the students.”

Cassio said, “I’d like to thank everyone who supported and voted for me. I look forward to working together with the new board to achieve great things for our children in the South Plainfield community.”

South Plainfield Board of Education members will be sworn in at the January 2017 reorganization meeting.

Additionally, in the race for New Jersey State Senate’s 18th District, Democrat and South Plainfield resident Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. earned 5,320 votes to hang on to the Senate seat he was appointed to earlier this year; Republican challenger Roger Daley received 3,465 votes. Diegnan will have to seek re-election to his own four-year term next November.  

TAPinto South Plainfield is South Plainfield’s only free daily paper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthPlainfieldTAP/ and on Twitter at @SoplainfieldTAP.