Morris County Republican voters turned to a trio of self-proclaimed “conservative” candidates Tuesday as John Cesaro, John Krickus and David Scapicchio claimed the party’s nominations for freeholder.
Incumbent and Freeholder Director William Chegwidden finished fourth.
Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb, running in her first freeholder race, finished fifth.
Chegwidden’s defeat means all three longtime incumbents who were originally up for re-election will leave the board this year, and with the replacement of Margaret Nordstrom last year following a contested election, only Douglas Cabana will have more than two-years experience on the board beginning on 2013.
The three Republicans will face Democrats Wasim Kahn of Parsippany; Toshiba Foster of Morristown; and Joy Singh of Morris Plains in November.
Deeb, the lone Republican on the Morristown council said, “I'm glad to have run a positive campaign. We ran a positive campaign based on the issues I believe I was always getting my facts straight. I always did my homework and it showed in a comprehensive knowledge of county government.”
Deeb continued, “While I'm disappointed in the results, I think I did a very respectable showing. We mounted a countywide campaign in 2 1/2 months and I am very proud of that.”
She was not ruling out any future run for a county seat. Deeb said she was uncertain that she would toss her hat into the special convention to replace Feyl next week.
In the other freeholder race on the primary ballot, incumbent Hank Lyon was nominated to run for the remainder of his term. He received 21,791 votes.
Lyon, of Montville, won the seat in a special convention in February after the state appeals court removed former incumbent Nordstrom from the seat she had seemingly won last November.
He will face Democrat Truscha Quattrone, also of Montville. She withdrew a petition for the three-year regular term to seek the write-in position for the unexpired term. Needing 100 write-in votes, Quattrone received 580 votes Tuesday to qualify for the November ballot.
“This is what I wanted to do,” she said. “I can’t wait. It will be a good race.”
Turnout was low even for a primary election. With 315,948 registered voters, a total of 40,425 voters cast ballots, or 12.7 percent.
Cesaro, a Parsippany Councilman, was the top vote-getter with 12,661 votes, followed by Krickus, of Washington Township, with 12,235, and Scapicchio of Mount Olive, with 9,715 votes.
Chegwidden received 9,465 votes. Alison Deeb got 7,241.
Other voter totals: Jeremy Jedynak, 5,507; Charles Germershausen, 5,410; Ted Hussa, 3,616; and Edward France (also of Morristown), 3,465.
Former Freeholder Gene Feyl, who resigned from the board in May to become executive director of the Highlands Council, picked up 4,509 votes.
For the Democrats, Foster got 7,062 votes, Singh received 6,874 votes and Khan, 6,775 votes.
A disappointed Chegewidden said, “It is what it is. I’m not ashamed of my record. I felt I did a good job for the county, but voters wanted a change. We are seeing a conservative trend. They may gets the cuts they want, and now they will live with the consequences.”
Chegwidden looked at Feyl’s vote total, the eighth largest, and said it represented the condition of the election process . “It begs the question, who was paying attention?" he said.
Cesaro is an attorney and a member since 2006 of the Parsippany Township Council.
Krickus is a public accountant and a former Washington Township commiteeman and mayor.
Scappicchio is a partner in a residential construction company and has served as mayor of Mount Olive from 2006 to 2011.
The candidates proposed smaller county government and reduced spending.
Cerao said late Tuesday that their victory represented a change for the freeholder board.
“The first thing we will do is examine the budget,” he said. “We want to do what’s best for the taxpayers.”
Cesaro said they will consult with current freeholders to plan for the future.
The Republicans will hold a special convention next Tuesday to replace Feyl.
The convention winner would hold the seat until the end of the year and would be replaced in January by one of Tuesday’s winners of a three-year seat.