Three Morris County commissioners say they’ll seek re-election to all-GOP board

December 14, 2023

Morristown Daily Record

By William Westhoven

A trio of Morris County Commissioners are teaming together for the third time in the hopes of retaining the Republican stronghold on the county’s governing body.

Touting their record of no tax increases over the past four years, Republican incumbents Deborah Smith, John Krickus and Stephen Shaw say they will once again seek re-election as the “Keep Morris Strong” ticket in 2024.

The announcement last week stated priorities that include making “vital” improvements and expansions at the Morris County School of Technology and County College of Morris.

Part of a seven-member all-GOP board that has not included a Democrat since 1973, Smith, Krickus and Shaw first ran together in 2018. They prevailed in a relatively tight race that saw Shaw win the third and final three-year term over Democrat Mary Dougherty (wife of Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty) by about 6,000 votes, or just over 1% of the ballots cast.

Smith, Krickus and Shaw had an easier time in 2021, each easily outdistancing their Democrat opponents by at least 27,000 votes.

Can Democrats close the gap?

This year, their announcement came with a long list of endorsements from elected leaders, including Sheriff James Gannon, 25 Morris County mayors and all 12 state legislators representing the county in districts 21, 24, 25 and 26.

“This unprecedented support also indicates that the Morris County Republican party is ready to unite early so we can start working right away in 2024 to elect Republicans and focus our resources on the fall campaign,” the candidates stated in their announcement.

They also have endorsements from fellow commissioners Christine Meyer, Tayfun Selen and Doug Cabana. Notable Republicans absent on their endorsement list are Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo and Parsippany Mayor James Barberio, who in recent years have won elections while being at odds with the county Republican Committee.

Signs of hope for Democrats

The GOP has dominated politics in most of Morris County for decades, but there are signs the electorate is losing some of its red tint. Democrats have been closing the gap in voter registrations and made gains in municipal races in November’s elections. U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Montclair Democrat, easily won re-election last year to the Morris-centric 11th Congressional District.

No Democrats have declared as of yet for the commissioner’s race, which will be decided on Nov. 5 next year.