Armando Fontoura was on his way to seeking his eighth term as he easily garnered the Democratic nod for Essex County Sheriff in Tuesday’s primary election.
At this time, all results are unofficial until they are certified by the Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin.
But with 90 percent reporting, Fontoura, 69, wins the primary handily over his challengers -- as was anticipated -- with 32,860 votes and 72.3 percent of the vote. In addition to his name recognition and long tenure, Fontoura went into the primary with endorsements from the Essex County Police Chiefs Association and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr.
“It feels great,” said Fontoura on Tuesday evening after he heard about the win. “It is very humbling to know that the Democratic voters in Essex County agree we are doing a good job; that our agency is critical ... and they want us to continue what we are doing.”
Challenging Fontoura on Tuesday was retired captain at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office John Arnold Jr., who garnered 19.6 percent of the vote; former deputy mayor of Montclair and retired police chief Roger Terry, who received 5.5 percent of the vote; and retired sheriff’s detective Herman J. Rivera, who came in last with 2.7 percent of the vote.
Looking ahead to the November general election, Fontoura will be pitted against Republican nominee Orlando Mendez, who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s primary. Mendez had run against Fontoura in 2009 and lost when he received only 25 percent of the votes.
Although Fontoura said he will be taking a small break to enjoy the victory, all his efforts will soon be focused on November.
“This is a presidential election, so anything can happen,” said Fontoura. “This is a time where we have to pool our resources. We are in cut-back mode, and I work well with all the other chiefs and I have to continue to do that."
The overall turnout for the primary was anemic, as it was reported that 62,198 of the 457,994 registered voters in the state came out Tuesday, or only 13.6 percent. However, this turnout was more than the last two primaries, where there were 42,235 votes cast in 2009 and 41,552 in 2007.