The race to watch in Passaic County is for county clerk, where Republicans are pushing hard to keep their only countywide office.
Republican Ronald Fava is seeking a political comeback in his bid for county clerk. The Democrats are running Danielle Ireland Imhof, the Prospect Park business administrator.
This is the first match-up between John Currie and Peter Murphy in eighteen years. Currie, the Democratic State Chairman, has been the Passaic County Democratic Chairman since 1990.
Murphy, who ran the party in the days when Republicans had complete control of government, gave up his post in 2001 after being charged in a kickback scheme. His conviction was eventually overturned by the 3rd Circuit and he later pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud in exchange for not going through a second trial.
Republicans won the County Clerk post in 2009 when Kristin Corrado won narrowly after Democrats decided not to support incumbent Karen Brown for re-election. Corrado was re-elected in 2014 but resigned last year after she won a special election for State Senate.
The acting county clerk is 76-year-old Walter Davison, who was not a candidate for the post this year.
Currie mulled running himself – Senate President Steve Sweeney held off swearing in Corrado until after the deadline so that Currie could not get in the race last year – but decided not to enter the race.
Murphy, who returned to the county chairmanship in June, has strong alliances with factions of the Democratic Party. Since all Murphy is asking for is to keep what he already has, some Democrats don’t want to poke the bear by denying him that.
In 1975, Fava was just 26 when he unseated incumbent Assemblyman William Hicks (D-Paterson) by 4,290 votes. Two years later, with Graves heading the Democratic ticket, Fava narrowly (1,006 votes) lost to John Girgenti, a 30-year-old Hawthorne school board member.
He last held public office seventeen years ago. He had been appointed acting Passaic County sheriff in 2001 when Edwin Engelhardt resigned, and lost the general election by a few hundred votes, despite Gov. Jim McGreevey’s landslide win that year.
Ireland Imhof is the daughter of Rev. David Ireland, the lead pastor of the multi-state multi-racial Christ Church. Her husband is Louis Imhof, the clerk of the Passaic County Board of Freeholders.
Passaic County has a near 2-1 Democratic voter registration edge; the county has 57,275 more Democrats than Republicans.
Democrats hold all seven seat son the Passaic County Board of Freeholders. The Republicans won three seats in 2009, but the three incumbents were defeated for re-election in 2012.
Democratic freeholders Assad Akhter, John Bartlett and Cassandra Lazzara face Republicans Lori Mambelli, Gary Passenti and Frank Pietropaolo.