Joan Waks is attempting a political comeback at age 78 as a Democratic State Senate candidate in the 26th district after waging competitive races for Assembly in 1995 and State Senate in 1997.
She came within 671 votes of unseating Republican Assemblywoman Marion Crecco (R-Bloomfield) in a district that went from Wayne to Clifton and then Bloomfield in Essex County. She received 46% of the vote for Senate against Passaic County Freeholder Norman Robertson (R-Clifton), who had ousted five-term incumbent Joseph Bubba (R-Wayne) in the GOP primary.
An attorney, Waks served on the Passaic County Board of Social Services and as a Passaic County Community College trustee. She lost bids for freeholder in 1992 and 1993 at a time when Republicans controlled county government.
Her late husband was the mayor of Wayne and a Superior Court judge. Her son, Joe, is a popular Democratic operative and now a successful artist.
She’ll either face five-term State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) or his primary opponent, County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo (R-Montville). Von Achen lost his freeholder race to Mastrangelo by 77,529 votes.
Former Parsippany Planning Board Chairman John Von Achen, who proposed siting a casino in Morris County when he ran for freeholder in 2016, will seek the Democratic nomination for State Senate in the heavily-Republican 26th district.
Von Achen will run with Walter Mielarczyk, a 26-year-old mechanical engineer from Pequannock, where he serves on the Democratic county committee.
Two Republican assemblymen, Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Brian Bergen (R-Denville), are seeking re-election. They face primary challenges from former Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) and former Parsippany Councilman Rob Peluso.
Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story said that Waks was running for Assembly.