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Mercer County Commissioner Pasquale "Pat Colavita. (Photo: Facebook.)

Colavita will retire after 18 years as Mercer County Commissioner

Six candidates seeking rare open seat in solidly Democratic county

By David Wildstein, March 05 2021 12:01 am

Longtime Mercer County Commissioner Pat Colavita, Jr. will not seek re-election, the New Jersey Globe has learned, with six candidates seeking a rare open seat.

Democrats will pick their new candidate at a March 18 convention, with no clear favorite.

The Democratic nomination in Mercer County is tantamount to elections.  Republicans have not won a countywide election in nearly 20 years and did not run candidates for freeholder in 2019 and 2020.

Seeking to replace Colavita are: Lance Lopez, the former president of the state Corrections Officers PBA Local 105; Assistant Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Tennille McCoy of Hamilton; Hopewell Township Committeewoman and former mayor Kristin McLaughlin;  Lawrence Councilman Michael Powers, a former mayor; Terrence Stokes, a Ewing football official and student discipline officer for the Trenton public schools; and Yang Mei Wang, a former college professor and West Windsor council candidate.

Cannon and Frisby are seeking re-election this year.

Democrats could wind up seeking some additional diversity on the seven-member Board of Commissioners that includes six white members – 86% — and one African American in a county that has a growing number of Hispanic and Asian residents.

If McCoy were to win, she would be the first Black woman to hold countywide office since Shirley Turner gave up her freeholder seat to run for State Assembly in 1993.

Commissioner seats don’t open up often.

Ann Cannon was first elected in 1994, Lucylle Walter in 1997, John Cimino in 2008, Andrew Koontz in 2010, Samuel Frisby in 2011, and Nina Melker in 2018.

For the 76-year-old Colavita, his retirement ends a career that began with his election to the Lawrence Board of Education in 1984.  He served as mayor of Lawrence before winning a freeholder seat in 2003.  He took over for Brian Hughes, who was elected County Executive that year.

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