Update: Councilman Brown contacted the New Jersey Globe to say that reports that he worked in the Dover Tax Assessor’s Office were untrue and threatened litigation if the reference was not removed from the story. The Globe called the Tax Assessor’s office to confirm his employment status. Brown answered the phone.
A campaign contribution by Linden Mayor Derek Armstead to an independent candidate for mayor in a much-watched Morris County race has led to a call for his ouster as the Democratic municipal chairman.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), a local political rival, said that Armstead’s $1,000 contribution to Dover Mayor James P. Dodd’s re-election campaign is a problem. Dodd is running as an independent against Democrat Carolyn Blackman.
“I’m calling for his resignation as chairman of the local party based on what he did,” said Scutari, who was municipal chairman until Armstead won a majority of the city’s county committee seats in June. “He should be expelled.”
Armstead could be in violation of the Linden Democratic Party by-laws, which prohibit party leaders from openly or secretly opposing any winner of the Democratic primary. Armstead could face punishment or expulsion.
Blackman was angered by Armstead’s support of Dodd.
“It is truly disheartening that the Mayor of Linden or any Democrat would support an individual who allegedly called me ‘f*cking n*gger’ in 2008 and who unquestionably yelled at me f** ‘p*ssy’ and a ‘c*nt’ near the Holy Rosary Church before the election last year,” Blackman told the New Jersey Globe.
Dover (pop. 18,157) is 48% Hispanic — with a large Colombian community — and 6% Black, but the county committee in Dover had a white majority.
In 2013, Dodd was among a group of fourteen Democratic mayors who endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie for re-election to a second term.
An insurgent group led by Democrats seeking greater representation in a town that is 69.4% Hispanic defeated three Dodd allies in the 2018 Democratic primary. Backed by Morris County Democratic chairman Chip Robinson, the Dover First group wrestled 19 of 24 county committee seats away from Dodd allies.
“I am shocked that the Democratic Mayor of Linden would support a defector from the party, especially in light of Chairman Currie’s recent press release,” said Dover Democratic Municipal Chairman Edward Correa. “It appears the Mayor of Linden has no respect for our party or our Chairman.”
Earlier this week, Democratic State Chairman John Currie called on Dodd to stop referring to himself as a Democrat.
“There is only one Democratic candidate for Mayor in the Town of Dover this year, and that is Alderwoman Carolyn Blackman,” said Currie.
There is a connection between Armstead and Dodd: Daniel Antonelli is the township attorney for both Linden and Dover.
An Armstead ally, Linden Councilman Peter Brown, was recently named Dover’s Tax Assessor trainee.
“This donation from the Mayor of Linden is more evidence that a section of Union County special interests are in Dover at the invitation of Mayor James P. Dodd,” Correa said. “It is also proof that Dodd is beholden to big campaign donors than the people of Dover, as I have been saying for the last 18 months.”