SOUTH RIVER, NJ—The borough will be getting a new Mayor soon, after a close contest in the Republican primary election led to the defeat of three-term incumbent John Krenzel.
Borough Councilman Peter Guindi defeated Krenzel 305-287 in the June 6 primary election, a race that was initially too close to call.
The Republican contest to decide the party’s candidates for two Borough Council seats was even closer, with just 13 votes separating the victorious from the defeated.
Krenzel has conceded defeat to Guindi, a fellow Republican.
“I wish Peter the best and hope that you all support him come November,” said Krenzel.
The borough’s voters will ultimately decide on their next Mayor in the November 7 general election, where Guindi will face off with former Borough Councilman Shawn Haussermann, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary election.
Guindi’s upset comes in one of the few Middlesex County municipalities with competitive elections, and elected officials hailing from both major political parties.
“One of the reasons I’m running is I want to see this town grow… Our business district is in disrepair, and has been for years,” Guindi said during the campaign, promising to make changes.
Guindi owns his own business, Perfection Imaging, and works for C3 Technologies, an environmental consultant based in North Brunswick.
Krenzel, a practicing attorney, was first elected Mayor in 2011 and is now finishing out his third term, which will expire December 31.
“I thank you for the opportunity to have served you,” Krenzel wrote on his Facebook page. “At times, it has been wild—from Superstorm Sandy to COVID—the highs were high and the lows were low but through all the various problems and changes that I have seen, I have believed and still believe that this is a great, little town.”
Two seats on the Borough Council are also up for election this fall.
In the primary fight, Guindi teamed up with one Council candidate: Board of Education member Lisa Byrne. Meanwhile, Krenzel was aligned with party’s endorsed Council candidates: incumbent James “Jimmy” Gurchensky and Henry “Hank” Dziemian.
Krenzel, Gurnchensky, and Dziemian ran on the Middlesex County Republican Organization “party line.” Guindi and Bryne ran “off the line” and labeled themselves as “Republicans for a Change.”
The advantages of the party line were limited in the contest, as the local races were the only ones contested in South River’s Republican party primary this year.
In the Council race, Gurchensky came in first place with 400 votes, but second place was also good enough to win. Dziemian narrowly bested Byrne for second place, 306-293.
The only Democrat currently on the Council, Julie Meira, is running with Joseph Donato on the Democratic Party’s ticket, and will face Republicans Gurchensky and Dziemian. No independent candidates filed petitions to run in either of the borough’s local elections.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.