Home>Feature>Murphy pulls Cotton PVSC nomination, picks son of Passaic GOP chairman

Passaic County Republican chairman Peter Murphy, left, with his son, Totowa councilman Brendan Murphy

Murphy pulls Cotton PVSC nomination, picks son of Passaic GOP chairman

Totowa councilman Brendan Murphy will take sewerage authority post

By David Wildstein, March 27 2019 1:08 pm

A deal is in place to move appointments to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission.

Gov. Phil Murphy has withdrawn his nomination of former Paterson mayor Ruby Cotton and replaced her with Brendan Murphy, the son of Passaic County Republican chairman Peter Murphy.

Murphy had nominated Cotton last May to replace Scott Heck, who resigned after the governor threatened to remove him for not living within the PVSC district.

State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) had refused to sign off on Cotton and Murphy’s other Passaic County pick, Passaic mayor Hector Lora, amidst concerns that the governor planned to stack the politically sensitive commission.

Cotton became mayor following the resignation of Joey Torres and has now returned to the city council.

Last August, Cotton told the New Jersey Globe that she expected her nomination to sail through the Senate.

In January, Murphy nominated Fair Lawn councilman John Cosgrove, a Republican, to the commission.  To make room for Cosgrove, Murphy withdrew his nomination of another Republican, East Rutherford mayor James Cassella.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), who had originally recommended Casella for the post, told the New Jersey Globe that he agreed to the Cosgrove nomination to help a fellow Bergen County Democrat, State Sen. Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus).

Lagana wanted Cosgrove to get a PVSC seat, in part to keep him out of the 38th district Assembly race.  Sarlo agreed to switch Cassella to a seat on the North Jersey District Water Commission.

Cosgrove will replace David Catuogno, who also resigned in May rather than face removal by the governor.  Lora is taking the seat of Kenneth Lucianin, who resigned in March.

A former mayor, Cosgrove was the first choice of Republicans to run in a November 2018 special elections against Lagana and Assembly members Lisa Swain (D-Fair Lawn) and Christopher Tully (D-Bergenfield).   He had suffered a stroke in March and declined to be considered for the Legislature last year.

The PVSC has been a source of stress for Murphy, who got involved in a contested election for vice chairman and lost.

Newark Councilman Luis Quintana also wanted the post and Murphy’ authorities unit director, Mary Maples, started calling commissioners on behalf of another commissioner, former Bergen County freeholder Elizabeth Calabrese.  One of her calls was to Newark Councilwoman Mildred Crump – Maples didn’t realize that Crump and Quintana were friends and allies.

Maples has since departed the governor’s office to become general counsel at University Hospital.

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