Mazzeo formally named winner in N.J. Second

Vincent Mazzeo must first
Vincent Mazzeo must first (resign his mayoral post in Northfield.)
Posted: November 21, 2013

MAYS LANDING, N.J. Election officials formally declared Democrat Vincent Mazzeo of Northfield the winner of the Second District Assembly race in Atlantic County, placing him ahead of three-term Republican incumbent John Amodeo by 40 votes.

Mazzeo received 25,164 votes to Amodeo's 25,124, according to the tally certified by the Atlantic County Board of Elections on Tuesday, the culmination of days of ballot counting and frazzled nerves on both sides.

"I am happy where it ended," Mazzeo, a two-term Northfield mayor, said Tuesday. "It's certainly a good feeling."

Amodeo, who was in his third term and had a leadership role within the party as deputy Republican leader in the Assembly, called the outcome "unexpected" and held open the possibility of a court challenge.

"It's been harder for my family than for me," he said of the uncertainty over the winner since Nov. 5. "The outcome of races can change. ... This is not what we expected nor what we wanted."

He said he would wait to see the certified results with Republican Party lawyer Randall Lafferty of Cooper Levenson before deciding on his next move.

Mazzeo, 49, who runs a family grocery, B.F. Mazzeo, in Northfield, claimed the come-from-behind victory Monday over Amodeo after election officials concluded an examination and count of paper ballots that stretched for 22 hours over three days.

On election night, Amodeo was shown to be ahead by 379 votes and had given a victory speech before midnight.

The elections board opened 115 provisional ballots Monday after a judge ordered that the ballots - which were contested by Republicans as improper - should be counted.

Mazzeo had been down in most tallies by as few as two votes before the additional ballots were counted, picking up several votes in the Democratic strongholds of Pleasantville and Atlantic City.

He will represent the district with Republican Chris Brown, but must resign his mayoral post.

"With the election over, I hope we can work in a bipartisan fashion to do what is best for the district," Mazzeo said. "I look forward to working" with Brown.

Mazzeo said he would focus on reducing property taxes.

"The number-one priority from a mayor's perspective is that we really have to address reducing property tax bills to residents," he said. "We have to see what we can do on that ... to have more people move back to New Jersey and people reinvest in their communities. It's really important to do this, especially in my district, and for all of New Jersey."

Of the closeness of the race, Mazzeo said, "It just all broke my way with the strong Democratic strongholds in the provisionals. I have been in a lot of elections. When you come close, it usually does not work that way, to come out ahead. I have never seen a race like this in Atlantic County."

Atlantic City also elected a Republican mayor, Don Guardian, for the first time since James L. Usry in the late 1980s.

The Second District includes nearly all of Atlantic County, including Atlantic City. The campaign was mostly civil and focused on issues such as the struggling resort city's future.

Amodeo, 63, a semiretired crane operator who had heavy union backing, said turnout was different this year.

"We had 7,700 come out of Atlantic City to vote - the largest number since 2005," he said.

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