A second-year GOP councilman will try to oust a three-term Democratic mayor in a small but prestigious swing town in Hunterdon County.
Kyle Perloff, elected to the Clinton Common Council in 2021, will try to unseat popular incumbent Janice Kovach, who was re-elected in 2019 with 68% of the vote.
“I’m running for Mayor with a vision of bringing the experience that matters to push Clinton’s municipal government into the 21st century while still protecting the values and history that make this town home,” Perloff said.
Republicans Liz Hedden, a public school teacher, and Mike Fioto, an insurance man and homeowners association president, will run with Perloff to flip two council seats held by Democrats. They will face Councilman John Kashwick and newcomer Kim Stentz; a second incumbent, Megan Johnson, is not seeking re-election.
“I love Clinton, and my top priority will be preserving the old-world charm that drew us here over 20 years ago while still delivering improved municipal services,” Hedden said. “We must find the right balance of powering our government on modern technology without sacrificing the character of Clinton.”
Fioto, who worked on Clinton’s youth baseball program, said he would focus on “fiscal discipline and transparency” if elected to the council.
“Serving our local government is a great way to give back to the community,” he said.
The current council has three Republicans and three Democrats.
The race against Kovach won’t be easy. Emptying Main Street garbage cans on weekends herself has made her a sort of Northwest Jersey version of Brian Stack.
A former president of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, Kovach was the Democratic nominee for Congress against Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) in 2014. Murphy nominated her to the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission and came to Clinton to swear her in after her last re-election.
Perloff appears to be making taxes his top issue.
“We all sacrifice a lot to live in such a high-cost state, and I want to make sure that every tax dollar we spend goes as far as possible,” he stated. “As your Councilman, I delivered a tax cut and brought Gebhardt field and our Community Center back to life, as your Mayor, I plan to continue bridging the gap between tradition and our future.”
Clinton has roughly the same number of Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. Last year, Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) won the town six percentage points against Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield) in the 7th district congressional race. Jack Ciattarelli carried Clinton by three points against Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021, and Joe Biden won it by seven points in 2020.
Clinton Councilman Ross Traphagen is on the ballot this year as a Republican candidate for State Assembly in the 16th district.