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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Challengers Stage Stunning Win in Frelinghuysen

Two challengers in a stunning upset ousted two incumbents on the Frelinghuysen township committee, riding a wave of discontent over several heated issues.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday unofficial results indicated Sharon Drylie gathered 305 votes in the Republican primary, beating out incumbents Christopher Stracco with 164 and Todd McPeek with 109.

But the big surprise was Kirk Perez, who appears to have been victorious as a write-in candidate with 257 votes as of late Wednesday. With no Democrats filing, all indications are that Perez will be joining the township committee in January. Unless, of course, a write-in candidate gets move votes in November.

Perez said his main goal in the short term is to take the edge off the acrimony that has enveloped Frelinghuysen in the past year, with issues such as the new fire department and the application for a cannabis farm dividing residents.

“I decided to stop complaining and do something about it,” Perez said after his apparent victory. “The first thing I want to do is stabilize our community, there’s been so much divisiveness.”

Perez has been an outspoken critic of a proposal to build a cannabis cultivation facility on Route 94, close to Frelinghuysen Elementary School. The application is currently before the township land use board, which will decide its fate.

Drylie said decisions such as the rezoning that allowed for the cannabis farm and the formation of the fire department should have been made by the broader community.

“I want to give the town back to the residents,” Drylie said. “I think that a lot of things we should have been asked about we weren’t asked about. Some things that should have gone to referendum did not go to referendum.”

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.