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Union races to watch

By David Wildstein, November 03 2018 4:03 pm

Union County is a Democratic stronghold where Republicans have not won a countywide election since 1995.  Four of the nine freeholder seats are up this year.

Control is at stake in Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Scotch Plains, Springfield and Summit, and key races are worth watching in Berkeley Heights and Roselle Park.  Some insiders say that race in Mountainside, dominated by talk of the Dildogate scandal, could be an upset.

Berkeley Heights

Republican mayor Robert Woodruff faces a challenge from Angie Devanney, the former Berkeley Heights business administrator and a well-known New Jersey Democratic operative who was political director of Jim McGreevey’s 1997 gubernatorial campaign.

Republican incumbents Michael D’Aquila and Michelle Greco face Democrats Stephen Yellin and Alvaro Medeiros for two council seats.  In 2017, Medeiros lost his bid for a council seat by just eight votes.

Republicans have a 5-1 majority on the council.  A sweep of mayor and both council seats would give Democrats control of the town.


Mayor Thomas Hannen, Jr., a Democrat, faces Republican Richard Buontempo.  Last year, Buontempo was defeated by 390 votes in his bid for a township committee seat.

Control is not at stake.  Democrats have a 4-1 majority in Cranford.


Sara Todisco, a three-term councilwoman, ousted incumbent mayor Charles Lombardo in the June Democratic primary with 72% of the vote.  She faces Republican Ileen Cucaro, a realtor, on Tuesday.


One of the last solidly Republican towns in Union County, the Dildogate scandal has potentially put two Borough Council seats in play in Mountainside.

In May, six police officers filed a lawsuit alleging the borough’s leadership has failed to counteract systematic violations and harassment they claimed to have experienced in the police department – including claims of an officer harassing his colleagues and at least one civilian with a sex toy dubbed “Big Blue.”

The suit claims that Andrew Huber, who has since resigned from the police force, would wave and throw a large blue dildo at people passing by the department’s detective bureau, even after a sexual harassment presentation that warned having a sex toy in the workplace would be grounds for termination.

Councilman Robert Messler is seeking re-election along with Rachel Pater, who joined the ticket in September after incumbent Wendy Fech-Caccamo dropped out for health reasons.  They face Anjali Mehrotra and Ileana Montes, a former director of the New Jersey Division of Women.

Roselle Park

Republicans have their best chance of picking up a mayor in Roselle Park, where Democrats have split.  Republicans have a 6-2 majority on the council

Mayor Carl Hokanson is seeking re-election to a second term as an independent.  He won in 2014 as a Democrat but left the party earlier this year.  He faces Republican William Fahoury, a councilman, and Democrat Joseph Signorello.

Democratic 2nd ward councilman Joseph Petrosky faces Republican Richard Graves.

Republican 5th ward councilman Thomas Shipley is opposed by Democrat Robert Matheiu.

Scotch Plains

There are three open seats on the Scotch Plains Township Council, where Republicans have a 3-2 majority.  Councilwoman Rose Checchio, a Democrat, passed away last month after a battle with breast cancer.  John Del Sordi, the Democratic municipal chairman, is not seeking re-election to the council.  Neither is Republican deputy mayor Llewelyn Jones.

Democrats can take control if they win all three seats.  Their ticket is headed by 31-year-old Elizabeth Stamler, who comes from a prominent Republican family.  He late father was John Stamler, who was a three-term Union County Prosecutor when he died in 1990 after he contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma after a heart transplant.  He grandfather was Nelson Stamler, a former state senator, assemblyman, judge and prosecutor.

Stamler is running with Roshan White and Joshua Losardo. The Republican candidates are Andrew Bondrarowicz, Sonali Dalvi and Jeff Kowalczyk.


Democrats have a 3-2 majority on the Springfield Township Committee, where Republicans are defending both of their seats on Tuesday.

Republican township committeewoman Maria Vassallo is seeking re-election, along with former mayor Jerry Fernandez.  Fernandez replaced Diane Stampoulos, who lost party support for re-election.  Their Democratic challengers are Chris Weber, a retired Newark police detective, and Alex Keiser, the chief of staff to Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange).


Control of the city council is at stake in Summit, the hometown of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin, where Democrats have a 4-3 majority.  One seat from each party is up next week.

Council President David Naidu faces Republican John Dougherty in his bid for re-election to his 1st ward seat.

In the 2nd ward, where Republican councilwoman Mary Ogden is retiring.  Republican Louis DeSocio and Democrat Gregory Vartan are running.


Mayor Derek Armstead, who won a heated Democratic primary in June, faces independents Adam Kuczynksi and John Principato.  City Council President Michelle Yamakatis and 9th ward councilman Armando Medina are unopposed.

Democratic councilwoman Lisa Ormon faces independent O’Neil Thomas in the 1st ward>

Linden has a competitive race for school board between candidates backed by Armstead and those supported by State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the Linden Democratic municipal chairman and Union County Democratic chairman.


Four Republican councilmen are seeking re-election in Clark, where the GOP has a 7-0 majority on the council: Frank Mazzarella faces Nancy Sheridan in Ward 1, Patrick O’Connor is opposed by Nancy Yewaisis in Ward 2, Steven Hund is challenged by Patrick Murphy in Ward 3, and Brian Toal is up against David Hessler in Ward 4.


Councilwoman Erin McElroy Barker and running mate Patricia Walsh, both Democrats, face Republican Brian Walter.  Democratic councilman Jack Molenaar is not seeking re-election.    Democrats have a 6-0 majority on the borough council.


Democrats have a 6-0 majority on the Kenilworth Borough Council.

Incumbents Gerard Laudati and Robert Schielke face Republicans Carmen Bucco and Sean Pentz.

New Providence

Popular Republican mayor Allen Morgan faces no opposition in his bid for re-election.

Two Republican borough councilmen, Gary Kapner and Jim Madden, are not seeking re-election.  The GOP is running Matthew Cumiskey and Peter DeSarno; the Democratic candidates are Rupa Kale and John F.X. Keane.

Republicans hold all six council seats.


Democratic Councilman Elton Armady, who was appointed after Rebecca Williams became a Union County freeholder, faces independent, Ronald Johnson.

Ashley Davis is unopposed for the 1st ward council seat.  She won the support of the local Democratic organization last March after beating Mayor Adrian Mapp’s choice, Gail Alexander, by just six votes.


Mayor Raymond Giacobbe, Jr.  and city councilmembers James Baker, Jeremy Mojica and Joanne Miles, all Democrats, are running unopposed.  Giacobbe became mayor after Samson Steinman resigned on Christmas eve 2017.


Democrats Brandon Bernier in the 2nd ward and John Fortuna in the 5th ward are running unopposed.

Bernier defeated incumbent Carla Walker in the June 5 Democratic primary.  Fortuna ousted councilman Samuel Bishop in the primary.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver both recorded robocalls for Walker in the primary.


Democratic incumbents Michele Desifort and Manuel Figueriedo face Republicans Justin Verzosa and Karen Slawson.  Democrats have a 5-0 majority on the Union Township Committee.


Winfield mayor Gary Genz is unopposed for re-election to the township committee.



Longtime freeholder Alex Mirabella is seeking re-election on a ticket with former Roselle councilwoman Andrea Staten and Westfield Democratic county committeewoman Kimberly Mouded.  They face Republicans Patricia Quattrochhi, Joseph Sarno and Peter Kane.

Freeholder Rebecca Williams faces Republican Peter Lijoi in a special election for the unexpired term of Linda Carter.  Williams succeeded Linda Carter, who resigned to replace the late Jerry Green in the State Assembly.

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