GOP sweeps local races

Dale takes mayor’s seat

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  • Charles Kim photos Democratic Mayoral Candidate Chris Garcia addresses supporters at Blini Restaurant Tuesday night.

  • Voters cast ballots at the Municipal Building on Union Valley Road Tuesday night.

  • Independent Mayoral Candidate shares the results with his supporters at Momento Restaurant Tuesday night.

  • Voters line up at the Municipal Building around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night.

  • (Inset) Republican Michele Dale won the tthree-way race Tuesday night.

By Charles Kim

WEST MILFORD – Republican Michele Dale will be the new mayor for the township, voters decided Tuesday.

Dale won the three-way race against Democrat Chris Garcia and Independent candidate Tim Wagner, who was also acting mayor and Township Council president.

She earned 3,852 of the 9,315 votes cast in the race Tuesday, with Garcia coming in second with 3,048 votes and then Wagner with 2,401 votes, according to the unofficial results from the Passaic County Clerk’s Office.

“I am honored and would like to thank the voters for their faith in myself, and I promise to serve them well,” Dale said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “I am so grateful (to the voters) for giving me this opportunity.”

Dale said she will immediately concentrate on crafting the budget for the next year in order to continue providing the services residents need as well as keeping an eye on the costs.

Her election will fill out a one-year term after former Democratic Mayor Bettina Bieri resigned in late August.

During the Sept. 5 Township Council meeting, members decided to appoint Wagner as acting mayor rather than giving the appointment to the Democrats, which was Bieri’s party.

Republicans nominated Dale to run for the seat the following night.

The Democrats nominated Garcia for the post and Wagner decided to run as an independent, setting up the three-way race.

When the results came in, Garcia addressed around 50 Democratic supporters at a gathering at Blini’s restaurant on Cahill Cross Road Tuesday night.

“It’s a fight for a better place and a better future,” Garcia said of his mayoral campaign. “I will continue fighting for that.”

He congratulated Dale on her victory and said he was willing to work with her to make West Milford better.

“If I am to lose this election, I am proud to say Michele Dale is our new mayor,” Garcia said. “I think we will be in good hands. I think we fought the good fight, had a good message and that message has to persist.”

A couple miles away at Momento Restaurant on Morsetown Road, another 40-50 supporters waited for the results of the election with Tim Wagner.

“At the end of the day, we have four very good council people up there through next year,” Wagner said. “They are looking for our best interests and I support them all the way.”

Wagner said that the high, 51 percent, turnout may have contributed to the results and that he thought his 2,400 votes would have been enough to win with a more traditional mid-term turnout.

According to the county, just more than half of the town’s 18,959 registered voters cast ballots in the elections Tuesday.

Dale will have to run for the seat again next year for a full term.

It was not clear Tuesday night if both Garcia and Wagner would also run for the seat again next year, but supporters at both respective venues cheered at the possibility of a rematch.

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