One of Mercer County’s most politically influential labor leaders is backing Ewing Councilman David Schroth in his bid to unseat Democratic County Chair Janice Mironov on Tuesday.
“Dave Schroth will be the type of Chairman that will be receptive to and supportive of the labor community,” said Mercer County Central Labor Council president Mike Maloney. I believe that together we can work successfully as we seek to put people to work and help them take care of their families,
Maloney, the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Local 9 business manager, said that he was disappointed two years ago that party leaders picked Mironov, the longtime mayor of East Windsor, as county chair.
“I publicly expressed my displeasure with the chair because of the terrible record the chair had established over the years working with organized trade unions,” he said.
But Maloney’s statement is contradicted by two top union leaders, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton), the president of the Mercer County Building and Construction Trades Council, and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli (D-Hopewell), the president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 254.
DeAngelo, the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 269, has endorsed Mironov for re-election as county chair.
Mironov said she was “sorry to hear Michael not supportive as I have worked to bring building trades to the table.”
“Support for my re-election as chair remains broad and deep throughout the county,” said Mironov, who touted the backing of DeAngelo, Verrelli, Sheet Metal Workers Local 6 business representative Johnnie Whittington, and New Jersey AFL-CIO Union Veterans Council chair Don Dileo.
Mercer County Democrats will hold their reorganization meeting on Tuesday with an online vote.
Mironov was elected county chair in 2018 after Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Trenton) stepped down to concentrate on her new post as an assemblywoman.
In a bid to avoid a vote, Hughes had called for a postponement of a county chair election until June 2021.
Mironov responded by releasing endorsements from a majority of the county’s elected officials. She has the backing of all seven Mercer County freeholders, Sheriff Jack Kemler, State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), and five democratic assemblymen, including DeAngelo and Verrelli.
She also has the backing of Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, and top Democrats in Hamilton, Lawrence Township, Hopewell Township, Hightstown, Ewing and East Windsor, Pennington and Robbinsville.
In addition to Hughes, Schroth has the support of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann, Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano, and Reynolds-Jackson.
Angelo Genova, who is representing three county committee members allied with Schroth — Robin Bridges Johnson, Gregory Johnson, and Charles Geter, said in a letter to Mironov on Friday that the “telephonic nature of the meeting impermissibly infringes on the right of committee members to fully participate” in party business.
Genova also claimed that the “purportedly ‘secure’ telephone system” being used for voting doesn’t assure secret ballots, and that the changes in voting procedure is inconsistent with party by-laws.
The meeting is being held electronically since Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order prohibits large gatherings. Several other counties have held their reorganization votes virtually.
According to Genova, Murphy’s Executive Order 164 “attempts to regulate and set the date for the annual meetings for county party committees, those portions of EO-164 are unconstitutional.”
“The governor does not have the authority to regulate the time and method of the internal affairs of a county party,” Genova claims, citing the Fong Eu court decision that allows political parties to make their own rules.
Genova argues that since the party by-laws required reorganizations to be held on the Tuesday after the primary election – which “has since passed” – the party needs to vote on setting a new election date.
Daniel Antonelli and Jarrid Kantor, the attorneys representing the Mercer County Democratic Committee, disputed Genova’s claims and said more than 300 of the 450 eligible county committee members have already registered for the telephonic election.
“Many other organizations use this platform, including neighboring Middlesex County Democratic Committee who used this meeting platform and voting process, for their reorganization meeting last week,” Antonelli and Kantor say.
The lawyers say that Mironov and the party executive committee “have taken the necessary steps, during a State of Emergency and Global Pandemic, to ensure that a member’s vote remain secret.”
“The selection of both Tele Town Hall and ElectionBuddy to oversee the meeting to ensure ballot secrecy, along with the decision of the MCDC Executive Board to hold the BOM on the first Tuesday after the July primary election results are certified, in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 164, fully and completely complies with the MCDC bylaws,” Antonelli and Kantor told Genova.
This story was updated on July 27 at 12:02 PM to include rebuttal from an attorney representing the Mercer County Democratic Party.