Labor leader Carmine Mattia, Jr. will seek to oust controversial councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke in Belleville’s first ward and has the backing of the mayor, Michael Melham.
Mattia is the business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 827 in Essex County.
“As a kid I sat on my parents’ stoop in Silver Lake, and I’m now a proud homeowner in this wonderful community,” he said. “I still fondly recall playing at the Friendly House, and I think it’s a shame what happened to that building. From the deterioration of the original building, to the construction of a new, substandard Friendly House, to the lack of programs available for the children. We must do better, and I believe we can do much more.”
Strumolo Burke ran for mayor in 2014 in a bid marked by allegations that she used a racial slur in a voicemail.
“This is terrible. This is terrible. This is gonna be a (expletive) (N-word) town,” she said in a voicemail message left for Kevin Kennedy, a councilman at the time.
Incumbent Raymond Kimble defeated her by 413 votes that year.
“As your Councilman, I will work hard to represent all ethnicities and foster stronger ties between the school district and the municipal government,” Mattia said. “Together, working with Mayor Melham, we will accomplish great things.”
Mattia pledged to help Melham pursue his agenda if he becomes a councilman.
“I’ve seen the progress that Mayor Melham’s Administration has brought to our Township, which had seemingly been floundering over the past decade while surrounding municipalities have flourished,” Mattia said. “I firmly believe in the Mayor’s vision and want to do my part for my neighborhood, Silver Lake, and the rest of Belleville’s First Ward.”
The mayor pledged his support to Mattia in a bid to oust Strumolo Burke, who was re-elected to her council seat with 72% of the vote in 2016.
“Carmine’s commitment to his neighborhood and the First Ward, coupled with his professional experience, will make him a tremendously valued asset on the Township Council,” Melham said.