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Donna Guariglia. (Photo: John Hester/Facebook).

Guariglia likely to get Morris Township Committee seat

League of Women Voters leader will face woman who attended January 6, 2021 protest at U.S. Capitol

By David Wildstein, August 12 2022 4:11 pm

Morris Township is expected to appoint Donna Guariglia, the president of the Morristown Area League of Women Voters, to fill a vacant seat on the township committee next week, setting up a November special election against a Republican who attended the January 6 protest at the U.S. Capitol.

An agenda posted by Morris Township lists Guariglia as the choice of the remaining township committee members to replace Tara Olivo-Moore, who resigned in July after just seven months in office and moved to Massachusetts.

Republicans have picked Sherry Nardolillo, a political newcomer who has made false claims about the results of the 2020 presidential election, as their candidate.

Guariglia was selected over two other candidates submitted by the local Democratic county committee, Jen Carcich and Siva Jonnada.

“Donna is someone who has deep roots in our community and has demonstrated her long-term commitment to Morris Township,” Mayor Mark Gyorfy told the New Jersey Globe.  “Our residents can be confident that they will be served by a well-qualified, independent thinker who will always represent their best interests.”

Guariglia is the daughter of the late Robert Peacock, a former deputy state banking commissioner and Democratic leader.  As a 32-year-old first-time candidate in 1960, Peacock came within 3,826 votes of unseating freshman Rep. George M. Wallhauser (R-Maplewood), a 50%-48% margin.    In a rematch two years later, Peacock won 47%.

Democrats have a 4-1 majority on the township committee and are seeking to unseat the lone Republican, 85-year-old Peter Mancuso.   He faces a Jeff Grayzel, the first Democrat to serve as mayor of Morris Township and candidate for a fourth consecutive term.   Mancuso, a former mayor who has served on the township committee on and off since 1978, won by 8 votes in the Gluegate election three years ago.

Nardolillo and her husband contributed a combined $11,600 to Phil Rizzo’s unsuccessful campaign for Congress in the 7th district., and $500 to Toby Anderson’s congressional run in the 11th district.  She also donated to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) this year.   In 2021, she contributed $3,000 to Rizzo’s campaign for governor.

Rizzo’s candidate in a special election convention for State Assembly in the 12th legislative district got smoked on Thursday evening.  Domenick Cuozzo, a pastor and Plumsted township committeeman, received just 29% of the vote in a race to fill  the seat of the late Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted).

The Morristown Green report identified Nardolillo, who grew up in Clark, as the secretary of Mom’s for Liberty’s Morris County chapter.  The group, the report says, opposes school mask and vaccine mandates, opposes critical race theory gender curriculum, and wants to ban certain books at school libraries.

That could be a tough sell in Morris Township, a onetime GOP stronghold that has leaned Democratic in recent elections.

Gov. Phil Murphy carried Morris Township by a 54%-45% margin in 2021; Democratic candidates for the legislature and county commissioner also won.  In 2020, Joe Biden took Morris Township by a 61%-36% margin, with U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) winning 59% and 50%, respectively.

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