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Guide to Passaic County Elections

Watch races for Wayne 5th ward council, and a control election in Ringwood

By David Wildstein, November 03 2019 2:01 pm

Democrats have a 7-0 majority on the Passaic County Board of Freeholders and Republicans are running just one candidate for the two seats up this year.

Longtime incumbents Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore face Republican Maria Giammona, a Totowa attorney.

The other candidate, William Cytowicz, dropped out after the primary and Republicans chose not to replace him.

That’s not entirely shocking, considering Duffy’s personal ties to the Passaic GOP leadership.  Republicans haven’t won a freeholder race since 2009.

In the contest for Sheriff, incumbent Richard Berdnik is facing a fourth term against Republican Darren Woolridge.  The (Bergen) Record wrote that “low turnout is a risk for Berdnik,” but it’s not like they truly understand uncomplicated voter turnout models.


The best local races in Passaic County are in Wayne, where six ward council seats are up for grabs on the all-Republican, nine-member township council, and in Ringwood, where control of the local council is at stake.

Democrats may have their best shot in Wayne’s 5th Ward, where Democrat Francine Ritter is trying to oust  incumbent Councilwoman Aileen Rivera.  Ritter has a strong base at the Brittany Chase condominiums, where she led a takeover of the board last year after news broke that residents might have to come up with an emergency assessment that could top $11,000 for some condo owner.

Democrats last held the 5th Ward seat in 2015, although then-Councilman Chris McIntyre had an unusual alliance with local Republicans.

In the 1st Ward, incumbent Richard Jzasterzbski, who was caught on video shouting expletives at a woman during a recent GOP primary, faces Democrat Arlene Sullivan.

Three other Republican councilmen faces challengers: Al Sadowski faces Democrat Dianne Douthat in the 2nd Ward, Franco Mazzei is being challenged by Karen Dowicz Haas in the 3rd Ward, and in the 4th Ward, Joseph Scuralli has two opponents – Democrat Kenneth Tahan and Independent Christian V. Smith.

6th Ward GOP Councilman Jonathan Ettman is unopposed.

Republicans had long dominated Ringwood, but in 2017 Democrats picked up three of the seven Borough Council seats in a town that gave Donald Trump 56% of the vote one year earlier.

Now all four Republican seats are up and Democrats need to win just one to take over.

Only one incumbent, John Speer, is seeking re-election.  The other three Republicans – Mayor James Martocci, Sean Noonan, and the venerable Walter Davison – are stepping down.  The Democratic candidates are Paula Tedesco, Jennifer Hsu, Michael Einreinhof and James Martin.

In the 2017 race, three Republican incumbents lost – one by just 58 votes. Gov. Phil; Murphy won the town by 80 votes and a Democratic Assembly candidate came within seven votes of carrying Ringwood over Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan).

Hawthorne: Four ward council seats are up in a town that is politically town that went for Donald Trump and Bill Pascrell in 2016, Phil Murphy in 2017, and Bob Hugin in 2018.

Republicans have a 6-1 majority on the borough council, with three of their seats up this year.

The lone Democratic councilman, Joseph Wojtecki, is seeking re-election to his 1st ward council seat against Republican JoAnne Fitzsimmons.  Wojtecki was re-elected in 2015 with 68% of the vote.

In the 2nd ward, incumbent John Bertolo is not seeking re-election.  Republican Rayna Laiosa now faces Democrat Thomas Bushnauskas, who list to Bertolo by a 64-36% margin four years ago.

Four years after running unopposed, Councilman Garrett Sinning is up against Democrat Kimberly Maciejewski in the 3rd ward.

4th ward incumbent Frank Matthews is being challenged by Democrat Jennifer D’Angelo.  He won by 137 votes (59.4%) in 2015.

Bloomingdale: This politically competitive town gave Donald Trump a 58% win in 2016 but has a Democratic mayor and an all-Democratic council.

Voter registration in Bloomingdale is still close: 30% Democratic and 27% Republican.  Josh Gottheimer lost the borough when he ran against Scott Garrett in 2016 but won it last year by 292 votes.

Bloomingdale is in the 39th district, where incumbents Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) and Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) narrowly lost in 2017.

Incumbents Dawn Hudson and Anthony Costa face Republicans Drew Juhlin and Daniel Hawkins in a race for Borough Council.

In 2016, Hawkins came within 67 votes of beating Costa, and his then-running mate, Michael Pirot, finished 155 votes behind Hudson.  Hawkins ran again in 2017 and got clobbered by Democrat Peyman Yazdi, losing by 434 votes.

Democratic council candidates had no opposition last year.

North Haledon:  Councilmen Keith Salviano and Bruce Iacobelli face Democrats Laura Lee Harding and Nicholas Zeitlinger.   Harding ran last year and lost by 503 votes.

Wanaque: Republicans have a 31%-27% voter registration advantage in this +12 Trump municipality where Republican Councilmen Dominick Cortellessa and Ed Leonard are seeking re-election against Democrats Henry Mendoza and Matthew Palmieri.

Wanaque is in the 39th district and Holly Schepisi and Bob Auth carried it in 2017, by about 200 votes.

Pompton Lakes:
 Republican Mayor Michael Serra faces a rematch with Democrat Carl Padula, who he beat in 2015 by a 63%-37% margin. Incumbents William Baig and Jennifer Polidori face Democrats Peter Chazotte and Edward Meakem in their bids for re-election to the borough council.

: Incumbents Mounir Almaita and Nereyda Curiel are seeking re-election in a heavily Democratic borough.  They face Republicans Frank Calero and Ramzy Yamisha.   In 2018, Democrat Domenick Stampone was re-elected with 74% of the vote in a rematch with Republican

Prospect Park: Only one Republican, Maria Emma Anderson, filed to challenge incumbents Adam Zakaria and Anand Shah for seats on the borough council.

West Milford: Republican Mayor Michael Dale fasces Democrat Robert Nicholson.  Republicans Kevin Goodsir and Warren Gross are unopposed for Township Council seats.

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