The Montclair Fire Fighters and the Montclair Police Officers associations spent tens of thousands of dollars helping their candidates.
Sean Brunske and Richard Beltran, both supported by the unions, were easily defeated by incumbents John Dutrey and Carolyn Raft last Tuesday.
Now at least one of the unions is prepared to move on and work with the council they aimed to shake up.
"I would want nothing more than to have a great relationship with all five council members," said Chris Jackson, president of Montclair Fire Fighters Association.
Jackson said association members got involved in the election because they felt the current council had not done enough to improve their working conditions.
"Our goal as Montclair Fire Fighters Association wasn't to rob the public coffers, it was protecting the workers who protect the public," Jackson said.
Fire union members plan to meet Thursday with city officials.
But the losses do not mean an end to the fire union's involvement in politics, Jackson said. This past election marked the first time the Fire Fighters Association had been involved in a city election.
Eric Cholly, president of the Montclair Police Officers Association, said he was also disappointed with the election outcome.
City officials asked the police association in 2011 to start paying a 6 percent contribution to their pensions. The two sides have yet to come to an agreement.
The firefighters association has been paying 6 percent of its pension obligations since 2009 but has clashed with City Hall on staffing levels.
Previously, Cholly said, the police association had not ruled out the idea of recalling council members. He said there were no immediate plans for such action.
Jackson said he is not even considering a recall but would rather focus his attention on resuming negotiation discussions.
Raft said she highly doubts any attempt at a recall would be successful, especially against Mayor Paul Eaton and longtime council members Bill Ruh and Leonard Paulitz.
At least $55,000 was spent on the election in this city of 37,000.
Dutrey and Raft have taken the election results as validation of their position that public safety should be treated the same as other city departments.
Dutrey said the residents have spoken and they want someone on the council who will be prudent and responsible.
"There is a lot of disappointed residents that are not happy with police and fire associations," he said.
The campaign season in Montclair was riddled with the candidates and incumbents accusing each other of dirty politics.
And in the weeks leading up to Election Day, residents were bombarded with robo-calls and campaign mailers endorsing the candidates.
In her door-to-door canvassing, Raft said many residents indicated to her that they were growing tired of the negative campaigning.
"It was very hard battle," said Raft, who has been on the council for 20 years. "I never experienced an election like this one. There's never been one like this."