With tears in his eyes, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso (R) thanked his supporters at a post-results gathering at Bistro 1051 after the numbers once again turned out in his favor. Bonaccorso won the mayoral race with 61 percent of the vote, besting challenger Councilman Rich Kazanowski (D).
Reelected to council with Bonaccorso are two teammates who have served alongside him since he was first elected in 2000, Councilman Al Barr and Councilwoman Angel Albanese, plus newcomer Bill Smith.
Bonaccorso, now elected for his fourth consecutive term as mayor, got choked up as he told the crowd a story about an elderly woman he met on the campaign trail.
"She came up to me with these four 10 dollar bills," Bonaccorso said, holding them up. "She had them rolled up and said, 'I want to give this to you because I love you.' And I started crying. That’s why we do it. For those people."
Bonaccorso also said he'd had the "week of his life," after dealing with Hurricane Sandy.
"Get the hell off our backs now," he added, regarding his opponents. "We’re the team with the plan. We’re the team that leads. We’re the team that cares about you all."
Fellow Republican and Clark's resident historian, Councilman Brian Toal, spoke about the significance of anyone being elected to four consecutive terms in Clark.
"What they've done as a team has never been done in the history of Clark," Toal told Patch. "They've rewritten the history books. These people are setting the foundation for Clark in the 21st century."
"We made history," Bonaccorso told Patch. "This is a labor of love. It was the week that almost finished me – emotionally, physically – but the people are what keeps me going. The emails and texts I got from people...I love these people."
"Getting reelected four times in a row means people are happy with the continuous improvements we've made - transparency in government, fiscal control," Albanese told Patch. "I am totally energized and overwhelmed by the support of all the citizens who voted for us."
"We're excited and we want to thank everyone," echoed Barr. "This proves that most residents saw through the rhetoric of our opponents."
Newcomer Bill Smith was thrilled to have won his first race for office.
"The campaign trail was exciting and exhausting," Smith told Patch. "I met a lot of great people out there. I enjoyed hearing citizens, and I look forward to serving them and continuing to move the town in the right direction."
Clark Republican Chairman and Public Safety Director John DeSimone spoke to Patch about working with Bonaccorso, Barr and Albanese since 2000.
"To be elected to four consecutive terms means we're dong a tremendous thing," said DeSimone. "These people care about the community, including the people who didn't vote for them. The election is over and there are no Democrats and no Republicans now. We're neighbors."
Over on Emerald Place, where the Clark Democrats gathered, the mood was just the opposite.
"We put our best foot forward," said Bonaccorso's challenger, Councilman Rich Kazanowski. "We had a good response and a lot of support, but I guess Sal had more. I want to thank all our supporters."
Kazanowski will continue as a councilman (his term expires in 2014) – the only Democrat on council – and said he is unsure if he'll run for mayor again.
"I thought Rich did the best he could and fought a really good fight, and I'm very proud to have been a part of it," Democratic council candidate Mike Altmann told Patch. "The best part about this is when I started I was just somebody who moved here and I ended this meeting a lot of great people and seeing what a great town this is."
"We're obviously disappointed," said Democratic candidate Phil Laskowski, who previously lost his race for fourth-ward councilman in 2010 to Councilman Brian Toal. "I think we had a good campaign and a strong team. I'm energized to try again in the future, and I'm still looking forward to trying to do good for Clark and get towards the vision we had."
Democratic council candidate Michelle Novak could not be reached for comment at this time.
Poll tallies:MAYORAL RACE WARD 1 WARD 2 WARD 3 WARD 4 TOTAL %
Sal Bonaccorso (R) 1109
Richard Kazanowski (D) 623
Angel Albanese (R) 1005
Al Barr (R) 1003
Bill Smith (R) 984
Michael Altmann (D) 610
Phil Laskowski (D) 606
Michelle Novak (D) 628