Gov. Phil Murphy is taking sides in three races for the Board of Aldermen in Dover, backing three incumbents for renomination in Tuesday’s Democratic primary: Jessica Cruz, Judith Rugg and Adrian Ballesteros.
“It’s a great honor to endorse these exceptional public servants for re-election in the Town of Dover,” Murphy said.
Cruz, Rugg and Ballesteros are part of an insurgent group that toppled an entrenched political machine run by then-Mayor James P. Dodd in 2018 and 2019. While Dover has a population that is over 70% Hispanic, the local government had largely been run by white men.
A Dover First slate headed by Edward Correa took control of the Democratic County Committee in the Democratic primary and ousted three incumbent members of the Board of Aldermen in 2018. In 2019, Carolyn Blackman ousted Dodd, who ran for re-election as an independent, and then won the rest of the governing body seats.
Murphy backed Blackman that year.
“Through open and transparent leadership, they’ve implemented a comprehensive response to the pandemic, invested in key infrastructure improvements, and attracted new development with fiscally responsible planning,” stated Murphy. “In partnership with Mayor Blackman, this team is governing with a principled set of values and moving Dover forward for all residents.”
Cruz faces Leslie Puente in the first ward, Rugg is opposed by Sol Sostre in the second ward, and Ballesteros is unopposed for re-election in the third ward.
The governor is staying out of the fourth ward alderman race between incumbent Marcos Tapia, Sr. and challenger Arturo R. Santana.
The incumbents are running on the Morris County Democratic organization line.