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Elmwood Park Councilman Joseph Dombrowski, center, is sworn in by Gov. Phil Murphy, right, in January 2019. The councilman's wife, Lori, is holding the bible.

Dombrowski eyes mayoral race in Elmwood Park

Councilman says he intends to run if Caramagna drops out

By David Wildstein, June 03 2019 11:28 am

Elmwood Park Councilman Joseph Dombrowski plans to seek the Democratic nomination for mayor, assuming former mayor Francesco Caramagna quits the race after tomorrow’s primary election.

Caramagna resigned as mayor in April after being charged with election tampering.  The Bergen County Prosecutor charged him after the filing deadline had passed, leaving the now-former mayor unopposed on the ballot in the June 4 Democratic primary.

Democratic leaders have confirmed that they expect Caramagna to decline the nomination, although none are willing to positively preclude the possibility that the 74-year-old Democrat will change his mind.

If Caramagna does give up the nomination, he remains hugely influential in the campaign to pick a replacement candidate.  The former mayor is still the Democratic municipal chairman and appears to control a majority of the local county committee that will pick their party’s nominee for mayor.

It is not immediately clear if Dombrowski, challenged Caramagna in the 2017 primary for an unexpired term and lost by 324 votes, will be the candidate the former mayor turns to as his successor.

“I have no control over that,” Dombrowski told the New Jersey Globe.

The council is now considering which of three candidates submitted by Elmwood Park Democrats should be appointed to fill a vacant seat on the borough council created when Council President Dan Golabek became mayor.

Dombrowski said he would back 26-year-old teacher Francesco Fasolo for the seat against the two other candidates related to the ex-mayor: Caramagna’s wife, Vittoria, and his son-in-law, Riccardo Patane.

“I believe the Democratic Party has taken its hits,” Dombrowski said.  “I’m not about to give it another.”

It’s possible that Caramagna could pick a different candidate to take his spot on the ballot, including his wife, or one of three allies on the council: Sandra Balistrieri, Lorraine Pellegrine and Doris Wechtler.

The statutory deadline for Caramagna to withdraw is September 12, although New Jersey judges have been known to grant a grace period on that deadline.

Dombrowski said he prefers that the issue of a nominee is dealt with quickly.

“I hope he (Caramagna) gives us the time to hold a strong campaign,” said Dombrowski.

Republicans are locked in a fierce primary to take on an unknown opponent.  Former Councilman Robert Colletti, who became mayor when Richard Mola died in 2016 after 45 years in office, faces former Councilwoman Magdalena Giandomenico.

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