Home>Highlight>Ileana Schirmer won’t seek re-election in Hamilton

Former Hamilton Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer.

Ileana Schirmer won’t seek re-election in Hamilton

’17 Senate candidate bashes mayor Kelly Yaede on her way out

By David Wildstein, March 17 2019 1:05 pm

A couple of years ago, Ileana Schirmer was touted as a rising star in New Jersey Republican circles — a Hispanic councilwoman in the ninth largest municipality in the state, one of New Jersey’s premier swing towns.

Now Schirmer is calling it quits, announcing that she will not seek re-election to the township council as part of a feud with with Kelly Yaede, the Republican mayor of Hamilton Township.

“I simply cannot support an Administration I no longer respect.  An administration defined by bullying, intimidation, retaliation, secrecy and self-absorbed attitudes that puts residents last,” Schirmer said in an open letter to local residents.

Schirmer was the Republican nominee for State Senate in 2017, losing the 14th district to State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) by 7,926 votes (56.5%-43.5%).  

The divide has been over local issues.

Yaede declined to endorse Schirmer for Senate, refused to share a campaign headquarters with her, and told municipal officials not to attend her fundraiser. Greenstein won Hamilton by 2,238 votes.

The divide has been over local issues.

Schirmer filed two ethics complaints against Yaede last summer, alleging improper actions regarding the township’s embattled animal shelter.

The controversy belies a deep split between Yaede and Schirmer.

“The mayor thinks she is above the law,” Schirmer told the New Jersey Globe last year.  “She behaved totally on emotion. “I personally don’t want anything to do with her. You have to agree with her or you’re out.”

Yaede faces a primary challenge from a fierce critic of her administration, David Henderson.  

Yaede’s seven-year incumbency — and the split within the local Republican organization — makes Democrats think they have a shot at the mayoralty for the first time since 2007, when Republican John Bencivengo ousted two-term incumbent Glen Gilmore.   

Democrats have their own rising star candidate, council president Jeff Martin.

Schirmer has not said if she would formally endorse Martin, although it’s clear she won’t be voting for Yaede.

Now she’s just looking forward to attending her son’s high school baseball games.

“It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve you as your councilwoman,” Schirmer said. “My time on the governing body has been an incredible gift.”

She pledged to continue to be involved in her community, just not as an elected official.

“I will always speak my mind. That is who I am and who I will always be. I am a very loyal person, but that loyalty is not blind,” Schirmer said.

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