It was the first contested election in Kearny in more than a decade. For months, it got heated. There was a lot of unfounded rhetoric. Social media was abuzz. A group of upstart challengers were taking on a ticket led by a man who, in his political career, has lost a grand total of one election — and that sole loss came early on in his political career for a state Senate seat occupied then and still by political powerhouse Nick Sacco, also the mayor of North Bergen.

But in the end, it was a massive blowout for Mayor Alberto G. Santos and his four running mates.

Santos easily fended off a challenge from local real estate agent Sydney J. Ferreira, beating him by a 75% to 25% margin. (See actual vote tallies in chart with this story.)

In the First Ward, Marytrine DeCastro easily held off challenger Kristin McBrinn by a 79% to 21% margin.

In the Second Ward, Richard Konopka got more than 96% of the vote. There were 10 write-ins, presumably for Alexis Campos, who was removed from the ballot by a court order early on in the process, but who conducted a write-in campaign.

In the Third Ward, Carol Jean Doyle beat Kristen Grimaldi by a 80% to 20% margin.

And in the Fourth Ward, Gerald “Jerry” Ficeto won against Stephanie Galarza with 72% of the vote to Galarza’s 28%.

All five winners are incumbents and are now the official Democratic nominees for their seats in the November general election. Since there are no Republican candidates, and since no one filed with the Hudson County Clerk to run as an independent, non-partisan candidate, the primary victors are the presumptive winners of the races in general.

Unofficial tally from the June 8, 2021, election in Kearny.

In the oft-heated contest for mayor, Santos’s win is one of his largest margins of victory he’s had in a contested race. While there was some concern because turnout was abysmally low on June 8 — and while there was also concern the heat that day and then massive storms midday could become a factor in the outcome — it was just another election for Santos, though afterward, he took absolutely nothing for granted.

“On behalf of myself and my running mates, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for entrusting us to continue serving the Town of Kearny,” Santos said following the primary. “This has been a historic election, and in these unprecedented times, our team has remained committed to you — the residents of Kearny. Thank you again, our work to keep our town moving forward continues now.”

Ferreira, meanwhile, whilst disappointed with the outcome, says he’s not going away after just one foray into local politics. He released a public statement two days after the election — June 10, 2021.

“Even though we did not get the desired outcome on Tuesday, we still made history together. For the first time in 12 years, we had a contested election in Kearny,” Ferreira, a realtor at the Rosa Agency, Kearny, said. “We started a conversation, and our fellow residents started paying attention. This election forced the administration to act on so many long-standing issues. We did all this in just three months. Despite the hiccups and mistakes, I sincerely hope we made you proud.

“To all of our supporters, our old and new friends, thank you so much. Your support kept us going, especially through the rough patches. To my fellow running mates, thank you so much for your bravery and courage to do something that no one else has attempted in so long. I am truly honored to have run alongside you.

“To our opponents, congratulations on your victory, and thank you for the valuable lessons you taught me along the way. To everyone who voted, no matter who you supported, thank you for participating in the democratic process. With only about 5% of residents voting this time, we would like to hear from more of you in future elections.

“This campaign may have come to an end, but our story and this movement does not end here. There is still so much work to be done. This was just the beginning.”

Countywide, election turnout was very low. There are 40,016 registered voters in Hudson. Only a handful over 38,000 voters cast ballots, representing a 9.35% turnout.

With this election essentially complete, attention swings to 2022, where four more council seats will be up for grabs. Those seats are currently held by Albino Cardoso in the First Ward, Peter Santana in the Second Ward, Eileen Eckel in the Third Ward and Susan McCurrie in the Fourth Ward. All terms are for four years.

Kearny’s cycle works with elections in two consecutive years and then two years without them. The town used to have elections every year (mayor and four council seats one year, and four council seats the next) with two-year terms for all offices.

That all changed in the early 2000s when the terms were switched four years.

Meanwhile, East Newark had a primary for borough council. Kenneth J. Graham and Rose Marie Evaristo ran unopposed. They received 4 and 3 votes in total respectively.

Lastly and unofficially, despite refusing to intervene on Kearny’s behalf in the fight to get the Keegan Landfill closed back in 2019, Philip D. Murphy scored votes from 1,612 Kearny voters in his unopposed race for the Democratic renomination for governor.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.