The "Continued Good Government" team in Manchester was able to sweep all three available Township Council seats, though the one candidate challenging the group was right at their heels.
The winning team, made up of council incumbent Sam Fusaro, 59, Planning Board Chairman James Vaccaro, 72 and newcomer to Manchester government Charles Frattini, 84, edged out William Peck, 60, who ran as "Your Conservative for a Better Manchester."
Peck, a Pine Lake Park resident, came close to winning a seat on the nonpartisan council, falling short by 557 votes, according to the unofficial results provided by Ocean County Clerk's Office.
"I think it shows there are a lot of people out there who would like to see some new blood on the council," Peck said Wednesday morning. "I congratulate them on their victory."
Peck earned 8,875 votes, falling behind Vaccaro's 10,821, Frattini's 9,432 and Fusaro's 9,646. Provisional ballots still may be added to the tallies, which will be finalized on Nov. 21, the county clerk's office said.
"I was pretty confident the whole time thinking the current administration has a good reputation within the town," said Fusaro, who lives in Holly Oaks. "I'm thankful for the support from the residents. We'll continue to provide the best services at a low cost for the township."
Despite the loss, Peck said that he feels "good."
"I felt I had a respectable showing and connected with a lot of people," he said, adding that he is grateful for those who supported his candidacy.
"It's hard to go against the established party," Peck said. "It's basically a one party town and it's tough to break through."
Looking forward, Fusaro, who has served 17 years on the council, said that the council will work toward controlling finances.
"The primary goal is to focus on the budget," he said. That means ensuring the township-wide property reassessments are completed and maintained to stop the "stampede" on tax appeals.
Though Manchester was mostly spared from significant damage when Hurricane Sandy passed through, some communities remain without power and have expressed concerns that more could have been done for them.
"They didn't have as much communication with the township as they would have liked," he said. Fusaro said that he will work with emergency management officials to streamline communication with villages in the township.
A future council candidacy by Peck or someone from the Manchester Regular Republican Club where he is a member is not out of the question, he said.
"We'll look at it and see if we make another run at it," Peck said.
In Manchester's uncontested Board of Education race for two open seats, Donald Webster Jr. earned 12,023 votes and James Griffin won 12,605 votes, according to the county clerk.
In the uncontested race for two Lakehurst Borough Council seats, James Davis won 534 votes and Gary Lowe took 517 votes, according to the county clerk. Also uncontested, Kevin Oliver took 416 votes for one of the borough's Board of Education two open seats and 88 write-in votes were cast, though it was not immediately clear who has won that seat.