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Upper Saddle River Councilwoman DeAnne DeFuccio. (Photo: DeAnne DeFuccio.)

Hudson senator’s granddaughter seeking 39th district Assembly seat as a Republican

Upper Saddle River Councilwoman DeAnne DeFuccio will seek Schepisi open seat

By David Wildstein, February 03 2021 2:37 pm

The granddaughter of a longtime Democratic state senator from Hudson County will seek the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 39th district.

DeAnne DeFuccio, an Upper Saddle River councilwoman, has filed a letter of intent with Bergen County Republicans for the Assembly seat Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) is giving up challenging 13-term incumbent Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) for State Senate.

Her grandfather, William F. Kelly (D-Jersey City), spent 16 years in the State Senate.

DeFuccio is expected to run on a ticket with Cardinale and Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Old Tappan), depending on the outcome of the March Bergen GOP convention that will award the organization line.

She faces three other Republicans: Closer Mayor John Glidden, Saddle River Councilman John Azzaritti, and Bloomindale Councilman Drew Juhlin.

Azzaritti and Juhlin are allied with Schepisi, who is looking to get the organization line in the Passaic County portion of the district by including a local candidate on her slate.

Still, Cardinale and Schepisi are prepared to run on the organization line with the Assembly candidates endorsed by the party.

An attorney, DeFuccio was appointed to the borough council in March 2020 after 90-year-old Councilman Roger Bernadine stepped down.

In 2020, DeFuccio won a full term on the council by 1,021 votes against Democrat Richard Medina.

Once a Republican stronghold, Joe Biden won Upper Saddle River by two votes over Donald Trump last year.

Kelly was elected to the State Senate in 1957 at a time when each county had just one senator.   He sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1969, finishing second in six-candidate field.  Former Gov. Robert Meyner, seeking a comeback, defeated him by a 45%-23% margin.

A former Jersey City municipal court judge and Hudson County Sheriff, Kelly served in the Senate until his retirement in 1973.  He served in Meyner’s cabinet as president of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission in the 1960s and was the Hudson County Demcoratic Chairman from 1971 to 1973.

DeFuccio’s mother, Mary Anne, was one of Kelly’s six daughters.  Senator Kelly died in 1989 at age 78.

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