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Morris Township Committeeman John Arvanites with his former running mate, Mayor Cathy Wilson.

Democratic battle brewing in Morris Township

Party won’t support Arvanites for re-election, possibly triggering independent bid

By David Wildstein, March 09 2020 4:41 pm

Morris Township Democrats have withdrawn party support from one of their incumbents in the race for township committee.

John Arvanites will not get the organization line in his bid for re-election to a second term after calling out party leaders on rewarding donors with jobs and contracts.

The party is instead supporting Bud Ravitz, who lost by just eight votes after a protracted court battle over uncounted provisional ballots that allegedly became unsealed due to faulty glue on the envelopes.

Ravitz will run with mayor Cathy Wilson.

With Republican Peter Mancuso in his seat for three more years, the race for two seats this year makes it a control election.

Arvanites has not yet announced his plans.  He could run in the Democratic primary against Wilson and Ravitz, or he could recruit a running mate and challenge the two as an independent candidate in the fall.

If Arvanites runs, he is expected to tout his plan to cut the local budget by 4% — a move that could result in an average property tax cut of about $400 per home.

Morris Township Democrats had a contested primary in 2018 when Wilson, then the municipal chair, denied party support to Jeff Grayzel, the first Democrat to win a local election in Morris Township.

Running off the line, Grayzel (1,206) and Mark Gyorfy (1,186), a former aide to Rep. Albio Sires, defeated Daniel Falkner (1,156) and Tara Olivio Moore (1,101).

In the general election, Grayzel (5,273) and Gyorfy (5,141) defeated three-term incumbent Bruce Sisler (4,251) and Joseph Calvanelli (4,129).

That gave Democrats a 4-1 majority on the township committee and allowed them to control municipal government for the first time.

Grayzel is now seeking the Democratic nomination for State Senate, with the backing of his municipal Democratic organization.

Arvanites was elected to the township committee in 2017.  He defeated Republican incumbent Louise Johnson by 285 votes

He had previously spent ten years as a councilman in Roseland and was elected mayor there from 2006 through 2010.

In 2012, Arvanites was the Democratic candidate for Congress against Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding).

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