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Fort Lee Democratic Incumbents Sweep, Mayor and Councilmen Re-elected

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Councilman Armand Pohan and Councilman Michael Sargenti defeated their Republican challengers in the General Election Tuesday in unofficial results

The Fort Lee governing body will remain the same this year—all Democratic—as Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and Councilmen Armand Pohan and Michael Sargenti were re-elected Tuesday, defeating their Republican challengers, mayoral candidate Judith Fisher and Council candidates Martha Cohen and Alfred V. Norton III, in unofficial results.

Sokolich, who will now serve a second, four-year term, defeated Fisher, who was seeking her first after an unsuccessful bid in 2007, in the General Election, 4,161 votes to 1,590.

Sokolich told Patch he "took nothing for granted" in this year's election.

“I find the Fort Lee electorate is very smart, and I’m just happy that they relied on results and not innuendo,” Sokolich said. “I’m proud of it, and I believe it to be testament to the fact that we’ve done a good job over the last four years. I’m a realist, and there’s a lot more to do. Hold on to your hats because there’s a lot more coming in the next coming months.”

Pohan, with 3,592 votes, and Sargenti, with 3,700, bested Cohen (2,043 votes) and Norton (1,826 votes), both of whom were seeking their first terms on the Council. Pohan and Sargenti will each serve a fourth, three-year term.

"It’s the fourth time Mike and I have run together, and I would say, of the four wins that we’ve had, this is the most satisfying because they had more money to work with this year than ever before," Pohan told supporters at Democratic headquarters in Fort Lee. "And they smelled blood because they had gotten more than 44 percent of the vote last time."

Pohan added that in spite of what he called "innuendos, "snide comments" and "false things that they said," he was "proud of all of the voters for recognizing the truth of the situation."

Sargenti simply thanked the Democratic supporters, including those who put in "a lot of time and effort" helping out with the campaign, and said, "To my wife and my kids, I should be back to normal after tonight."

The race had been a contest among three Democratic incumbents with more than 20 years experience, collectively, in local elected office against three Republicans who were relative newcomers. Two of the three challengers —Fisher and Cohen—had run for office in the past.

The Democrats touted “strong leadership” and experience throughout their campaign. They pointed to successes during their tenure in office such as “record-breaking bond debt reduction,” implementation of “multiple programs” at no cost to taxpayers, keeping municipal tax increases as low as they’ve been in many years while maintaining services and quality of life and “significant progress” on Redevelopment Area 5.

Meanwhile, their Republican challengers ran on platforms of controlling debt and cutting spending, equal funding for schools via the Fair School Funding Act and other ideas, such as adopting generally accepted accounting standards, providing free shuttle service for Fort Lee residents across the George Washington Bridge, opposing red light cameras and other new fees that are “really taxes in another form,” according to Cohen, and fighting the Port Authority on further toll hikes—a campaign pledge of Norton’s.

Sokolich told supporters that the Democratic team "stuck with the game plan of just dealing with the positives," adding, "If one of us didn’t get in, as far as I was concerned, that was a total defeat."

The results are not official until they are certified by the County Clerk, including a count of a "small amount" of provisional ballots, according to Borough Clerk Neil Grant, who also said there are too few of those to affect Fort Lee’s local race.

The complete breakdown by Fort Lee voting district in the local election was as follows:

Candidate Sokolich* Fisher Pohan* Sargenti* Cohen Norton District 1 241 96 205 210 125 110 2 154 70 119 132 89 76 3 273 160 224 224 196 191 4 169 58 137 137 91 72 5 185 77 150 160 106 94 6 273 108 242 257 129 115 7 490 138 433 445 182 164 8 105 41 97 100 45 44 9 124 56 102 111 70 61 10 480 201 401 417 271 235 11 132 60 119 117 73 72 12 202 61 177 178 75 70 13 152 54 146 142 62 54 14 121 36 113 112 46 36 15 92 64 90 92 62 60 16 159 63 132 138 80 76 17 133 31 117 124 44 33 18 65 41 59 63 47 43 19 360 94 312 314 133 119 ABS 251 86 217 227 117 101

The breakdown by Fort Lee district for all races in the General Election, including state, county and local races, and the public question on sports betting, can be found under "PDFs" to the right of this article.

Voter turnout was roughly 31 percent in Fort Lee Tuesday.

Cohen declined to comment, and Fisher could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

In an email Wednesday morning, Norton said, "The Republican ticket in Fort Lee is disappointed in the results of yesterday’s election, but given the demographic that Democratic registered voters outnumber Republican registered voters by a margin of 7,500 to 2,300, we hardly consider it a mandate."

"Personally I'm gratified in receiving over 1,800 votes, having only entered the race in mid-September," Norton said. "We thank our base that voted our ticket and will continue to reach out to Democrats and the 7,000 unaffiliated voters in Fort Lee. In the interim we continue to support the School Bond referendum in January, a 2012 Budget with no increase in municipal taxes, release and review of the Port Authority audit promised in December and groundbreaking at the Centuria site in the Spring. We too are anxious to see 'Progress not Promises.'"

Jack B Goode November 11, 2011 at 01:24 PM
For once I agree with Billy Mays...many if not most NY commuters work midtown or downtown so they take the River Road bus through the Lincoln Tunnel. Also there is a free GWB shuttle bus from Constitution Park that runs frequently during the day (maybe even weekends) for Columbia Medical Center students and employees.
Suzanne Troya November 11, 2011 at 01:26 PM
Way to go everyone!!! Fort Lee IS a great town, with concerns not shared in most NJ towns. Our elected officials - who look out for it's citizens have to deal with Port Authority, New York City officials, advanced infrastructure, cultural diversity and sensitivity, congestion comparable with moderate sized cities. Our officials have maintained Fort Lee's beauty, they've made me proud to call this town home. Keep the great job going!!!!!!
Missy November 12, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Anna: I agree to your comment that freedom of speech extends to us all. The underlying issues and perhaps I should have been more direct and specific: After the election she should have stopped with the rhetoric. More class AFTER the election that was won would have been more in line with the wife of an elected official. She continued with the snarky comments and would have garnered more respect if she handled it better.
William Mays November 12, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Oh I'm sure that she has enough class. I respect what she did, and I thought that she was completely right.
Tracy November 12, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Cograts to the Re-elected Council!

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