Heather Darling has entered the race for Surrogate, putting the first-term freeholder in a primary fight with Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township).
The incumbent, John Pecoraro, is retiring after 25 years in office.
Darling’s announcement, first reported by Parsippany Focus, comes as a surprise. Carroll had appeared to have a clear path to the GOP nomination since Douglas Cabana announced last November that he would run for re-election to the Board of Freeholders.
Carroll said last year that he would not seek re-election to the Assembly seat he has held since 1996.
Darling, a Roxbury attorney, ran for freeholder in 2017 when Hank Lyon gave up his seat to seek the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 26th district. She defeated David Scapicchio by 305 votes, 32%-31%, in a field of four candidates.
“Each and every day the media is replete with stories of seniors being scammed and it kills me when I hear about our seniors being taken advantage of,” Darling said. “I grew up with only one parent and he was a senior by the time I was 10 years old. I saw people try over and over to take advantage of him for no reason other than his age.”
Darling says that Pecoraro’s retirement “offers an opportunity for me to bring new ideas and make significant changes for the benefit of seniors and special needs citizens in Morris County.”
“Although I love being a Freeholder, there is a need in Morris County that I believe I am the perfect person to fill and through which I can help some of our most vulnerable citizens. The Surrogate’s Office is most often associated with Probate matters but there is more to it,” Darling said. “As a legal practitioner representing clients in the Morris County Surrogate’s Court, including having served as a court appointed guardian, I have a strong grasp of the inner workings of the Surrogate’s Office from an attorney perspective and, sadly, I have had opportunities to visit for probate matters within my family. These experiences help me to see where and how the needs of clients and their representatives can be served.”
Darling does not have to give up her freeholder seats to run.