Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy broke a 30-plus year Republican streak.
If you were looking to make a name for yourself as a Democratic politician in the past, odds are you didn’t plant yourself in Somerset County. For more than 30 years, the county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders had only Republican members.
That changed Tuesday night when Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy were elected to the board. They are the first Democrats to hold freeholder positions in Somerset since the 1980s.
The two beat out incumbents Mark Caliguire and Patrick Scaglione, who have been members of the board since 2011 and 2010, respectively, by a 9,000-vote margin.
“We’re thrilled,” said Peg Shaffer, chair of the Somerset County Democratic Committee.
“We had a great team of candidates they were perfectly suited to each other, they balance each other well.”
Throughout New Jersey, Democrats flipped several seats long held by Republicans, including several U.S. House seats. But, Robinson said that while it’s exciting to be a part of that, it’s not her main focus.
“As a servant leader, I believe that you have to be there for all and not just a few,” Robinson said. “I’m excited there’s work that need to be done and we need to work together to get those things done.”
Sooy, a lifelong resident of Bernardsville, said she wants to focus on downtown revitalization projects, making sustainable investments and improving infrastructure. Robinson said she wants to focus on getting board meetings videod and streamed for the public, and finding long-term infrastructure solutions.
Caliguire said he was disappointed to not be re-elected but is proud of the work he’s done on the board, and wouldn’t rule out running for office down the line.
Scaglione did not respond to NJ Advance Media’s request for comment.
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