Incumbent Essex County Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura has won the Democratic primary for Essex County Sheriff, and will face Republican challenger Nicholas Pansini in the November election.

With 503 of the county’s 548 districts reporting as of early Wednesday morning, Fontoura had received 25,285 votes, beating out challengers for the Democratic nomination John C. Arnold Jr. at 6,089 votes and Barry Jackson at 1,508. Those results are unofficial and do not yet include provisional or mail-in ballots. 

Fontoura, the longest-serving sheriff in Essex County history, was appointed sheriff in 1990, re-elected in 1991 and has served ever since, according to the Sheriff’s Association of New Jersey website. Fontoura will begin his 11th term if he wins the general election in November. Fontoura was also endorsed by Gov. Phil Murphy. 

Arnold is an ordained pastor who has served as Captain of Detectives with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and Newark’s Deputy Police Director, according to his campaign website. Had he won the nomination and eventually the general election, he would have been the first African-American sheriff in Essex County history. 

Pansini received 5,609 votes as of Wednesday morning, beating out Maureen Edelson, a Montclair resident, who received 1,387 votes.

Pansini, whose Facebook profile states he was formerly employed by the Essex County Correctional Facility, was endorsed by the Essex County Republican party.

Edelson does not have law enforcement experience but says on her website she has managed up to 1,000 people. She said in a statement emailed to Montclair Local Wednesday morning she thanked the 125 Montclarians who voted or worked for her in the campaign "and latched on to my wholly unpartisan 'R.F.D.' (Respect, Firearms safety, be your own Deputy Sheriff) message: that through grater self-governance, Montclair and Essex County citizens can have greater liberty and safety under a respected U.S. Constitution." 

Montclair Local is continuing to seek statements from other candidates in Tuesday's races.

Most other races on the ballot for Montclair residents Tuesday were uncontested. Gov. Phil Murphy was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and will seek his second term. Two other potential Democratic candidates failed to get enough voter signatures to appear on the ballot, courts decided earlier this year.

Republican Jack Ciattarelli easily won his party’s nomination to oppose Murphy in the fall, with 153,076 votes statewide with 89% of districts reporting by Wednesday morning, according to the AP. He bested Phil Rizzo at 81,559, Hirsch Singh at 66,643 and Brian Levine at 9,901, according to counts by the Associated Press.

Among Essex County voters, Ciattarelli led as well, with 4,386 votes tallied by Wednesday morning, compared to Rizzo’s 1,963, Singh’s 1,353 and Levine’s 169.

Incumbent Assembly members Thomas Giblin and Britnee Timberlake ran unopposed  for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 34th Legislative District. Giblin has held the office since 2006 and Timberlake has since 2018. Tafari Anderson and Irene DeVita ran unopposed in the Republican primary. 

Incumbent state Sen. Nia Gill, in office since 2002, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary as well. Scott Pollack ran unopposed for the Republican nomination. 

 — Talia Wiener and Louis C. Hochman