All five seats on the Lodi Borough Council are up in next Tuesday’s non-partisan municipal elections, where the current regime has not lost an election in sixteen years – and where twenty years have passed since an entire slate of incumbents were tossed from office.
Mayor Emil Carafa, Jr. heads the Lodi Pride slate that includes incumbent councilmen Vincent Martin and Albert DiChiara. Two other incumbents, Laura Cima and Patricia Licata, are not seeking re-election; Joseph Leto and Scott Luna are running to fill their seats.
Leading the Citizens Against Corruption slate is George Panagiotou, who is making his fourth council bid. He is running with Rosa Antao-Oliviera, Joseph Agosta, Amelia Abrams and Sam Garofalo.
An 11th candidate, Dave Kim, is running on his own.
While Panagiotou has never come close to securing a council seat, he came within just 29 votes of winning a November 2018 school board race against former mayor Marc Schrieks.
Carafa is Lodi’s third mayor since 2015, when Schrieks resigned to take a job with newly-elected Bergen County Executive James Tedesco. Schrieks’ replacement, Bruce Masopust, resigned later that year to become the borough manager; he was replaced by Carafa.
Four years ago, the Lodi Pride ticket – then known as United for Lodi – swept all five seats. Ryan Curioni, a former school board member, lost by about 200 votes; Panagiotou ran about 500 votes behind the fifth-place winner.
In 2011, three United for Lodi incumbents and their two running mates won easily. Panagiotou lost that race by about 550 votes.
The last time Lodi voters ousted incumbents was in 2007, when Mayor Gary Paparozzi lost re-election after being dropped from the slate of incumbents headed by Schrieks, then called Vision Integrity Progress (VIP). Paparozzi and Schrieks had been elected in 1999 on a ticket that ousted Mayor Philip Toronto and four incumbents.