Leggio Slated To Face Filosa In Howell Mayoral Race

John Leggio (Campaign Photo)

  HOWELL – Preliminary primary election results indicate John Leggio will likely be the Republican candidate for Howell mayor in November. He is set to face Democrat Matthew Filosa, who ran unopposed in yesterday’s primary.

  Leggio currently leads by 66 votes with 1,884 votes secured. Ian Nadel follows with 1,818, and Fred Gasior has 535. Ten write-ins are also part of the preliminary tally. Nadel is the township’s current deputy mayor, and Gasior is a sitting councilman.

  It takes a few weeks for county officials to certify the election.

  The anticipated outcome of the Republican primary is noteworthy. Leggio did not interview with the local county committee for their endorsement and self-funded his campaign. Gasior, initially chosen by Howell Republican County committee members, also self-funded his campaign but was not awarded the party line. Instead, the Republican party line went to Nadel.

  It remains unclear if local Republican party officials will support Leggio in the November race.

  “It’s important every vote gets counted,” said Howell Municipal Chair Joe DiBella. “Until we have a certified outcome, we’ll wait for the results.”

  “It’s clear Deputy Mayor Nadel and Mr. Leggio are locked in a close race,” DiBella added. “Hopefully we’ll have official results soon.”

Democrat Matthew Filosa ran unopposed in the primary for Howell mayor. (photo courtesy campaign)

  One factor that may have contributed to Leggio’s projected win is the potential impact if one of the two sitting council members became mayor. Nadel or Gasior’s seat would then need to be filled by someone nominated by Republican county officials. Ironically, this has everything to do with why Leggio didn’t screen in the first place.

  When Thomas Russo resigned as Deputy Mayor in 2021, Leggio was among three Republican candidates presented to the council as potential replacements. The GOP controlled the seat due to Russo’s affiliation. The four remaining council members, Democrats Theresa Berger and John Bonevich, and Republicans Evelyn O’Donnell and Pamela Richmond, voted but couldn’t agree on a candidate.

  The Democrat members of the council decided to vote for Leggio, while O’Donnell and Richmond were in favor of Sue Brennan. Ultimately, the Republican Committee broke the tie and named Brennan as Russo’s successor.

  Leggio became further disillusioned when the Republican-controlled council didn’t reappoint him to the Planning Board. Unexpectedly, Berger reached out to Leggio last year, offering to appoint him to the Planning Board as the mayor’s designee, which he accepted, crossing party lines.

  At a recent candidate’s debate, Leggio emphasized that he is a lifelong Republican and is committed to the Republican party. He campaigned on the need to make changes in Howell – a town he has called home since childhood.

  A former local business owner, Leggio has pledged his support to the farm community and their interest to expand their operations to keep alive.

  “Thank you to the good people of Howell who came out to support me,” said Leggio in a statement. “The results are not final but I am hopeful we will win this election and go on to win in November.”

  “Together we sent a message it’s time for change,” Leggio added. “I congratulate Ian Nadel and Fred Gasior on their campaigns and look forward to working with them in the future.”

  Current councilwoman Evelyn O’Donnell, a Republican, and Democrat Rebecca Scott ran unopposed in the primary and will face off in the November general election for O’Donnell’s expiring term.

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Stephanie A. Faughnan is an award-winning journalist associated with Micromedia Publications/Jersey Shore Online and the director of Writefully Inspired. Recognized with two Excellence in Journalism awards by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, Stephanie's passion lies in using the power of words to effect positive change. Her achievements include a first-place award in the Best News Series Print category for the impactful piece, "The Plight Of Residents Displaced By Government Land Purchase," and a second-place honor for the Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage category, specifically for "Albert Music Hall Delivers Exciting Line-Up For 25th Anniversary Show." Stephanie can be contacted by email at stephanienjreporter@gmail.com.