It appears that Jefferson Township will actually have a proverbial “horse race” in the upcoming November elections. An apparently reinvigorated Democratic Party has registered candidates to run for the municipality’s two open council seats.

The candidates are Daniel Malloy and Douglas Helmstetter, both from the Lake Hopatcong area of the township, The Jefferson Chronicle has learned. Malloy is a U.S. veteran.

Entry of Democrats into a political race in Jefferson represents quite a change for a municipality that has not had a competitive multi-party local election in nearly a decade, former Jefferson mayor Horace Chamberlain tells The Chronicle. Democrats locally as well as nationally, he said, “are enthusiastic about the upcoming November election, anticipating that 2018 can be a transformative year.”

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He tells The Chronicle that “based on perceived public dissatisfaction with the negative state of national, regional, and local politics, Democrats believe there is motivation for change.”

The two Dems, who will soon be presenting their platform, ideals, and resumes, will face off in November against winners of the upcoming June primary, which is full of GOP hopefuls in a horse race of their own.

The Republicans include Robert Vander Ploeg, Jr., who is running solo for one of the two open council seats. At the same time, two teams of Republicans are running for all open seats, including the mayoral position.

One GOP team consists of retired deputy police chief Eric Wilsusen, Councilman H. Ronald Smith, and Board of Education member Melissa Senatore. The other team includes current mayor Russell Felter, current council president Debi Merz, and newcomer Patty Fallon.

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