Grilo beats Smith, with no GOP challenger, set to become first female East Newark mayor

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Dina Grilo managed to pull off the only upset in Hudson County in the primary election, defeating East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith, the county’s longest sitting mayor, in a tightly contested race.

New East Newark Democratic-mayoral nominee Dina Grilo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Grilo, 47, bested Smith, 78, by just 31 machine votes in the tiny Hudson County borough – 175 votes to 144 votes, according to tallies provided by the Hudson County Clerk’s Office.

While the race is theoretically close enough to be decided by provisional or vote-by-mail tallies, Smith, an eight-term incumbent who has served since 1987, has conceded the election.

Barring an incredible unforeseen set of circumstances, Grilo will be the next East Newark mayor since there is no Republican challenger on the ballot for November.

Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise, who backed Smith, has already offered her congratulations to Grilo, as well as commending Smith for his 32 years of service.

“I would like to personally thank East Newark Mayor Joe Smith for his long and distinguished career of dedicated service to his community, and for his steadfast support during last year’s Democratic Chair contest,” she said in a statement that acknowledged all of today’s winners.

“I congratulate Dina Grilo on her victory tonight and look forward to working with her to help implement her vision of moving East Newark forward.”

Despite the upset, the HCDO still had a pretty good night overall: Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Sheriff Frank Schillari, County Surrogate candidate Till Rivas, all six Assembly representatives, their four members of the Harrison council and two members of the East Newark council all won handily.

Assembly members Angelica Jimenez and Pedro Mejia, of the 32nd Legislative District, were the only Trenton lawmakers who faced Democratic challengers.

While the county clerk’s office did not have final tallies available in that race, it is clear that the incumbents won in a landslide.