By Frank Capece, Political Correspondent
HILLSIDE, NJ — Dahlia Vertreese won a narrow victory over Jorge Batista for Hillside mayor on Dec. 5, prevailing by 28 votes in unofficial results of more than 3,400 cast in a two-person runoff.
Vertreese, who has an extensive background in labor organizing and was a former teacher in Newark, received 1,739 to Batista’s 1,711, making her the successor to Angela Garretson.
Garretson won a seat on the all-Democratic Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Nov. 7.
The result was a turnaround from the general election results in November, when Batista finished first in a field of four candidates with 1,624 votes. Vertreese was second with 1.397.
Salonia Saxton received 911 votes and Sip Whitaker 723. Since none of the candidate received 50 percent of the vote, a runoff was needed.
It was the third straight time the Hillside mayor’s race had gone to a runoff. Garretson required a runoff in 2013 to defeat incumbent Joseph Menza, who needed a runoff in 2009 to win his seat.
Vertreese had the backing of the Union County Democratic Party and won along with her Many People/One Hillside slate of candidates for three at-large council seats, which also required a runoff among six hopefuls.
George Cook was the top vote-getter with 1,768, followed by Nancy Mondella with 1,715 and Craig Epps with 1,702.
None of the Batista-tied candidates running under the Putting Hillside First moniker received more than 1,600 votes. Joshua Greenblatt had the most with 1,579, followed by Nagy Sileem with 1,529 and Joseph Brown with 1,511.
The Nov. 7 election for council had 12 candidates.
Cook received the most votes in that balloting with 1,356. Greenblatt was second with 1,309 and Sileem third with 1,260.
Mondella and Epps were fifth and sixth with 1,217 and 1,192 votes respectively, trailing Brown with 1,220.