Marco Navarro, a first responder from Union City, says he will enter the race for the Democratic nomination for Hudson County Freeholder.
He will oppose Fanny Cedeno, who is Mayor Brian Stack’s choice to run for the District 6 seat that was vacated this week when Tilo Rivas resigned to become the Hudson County Surrogate. The district is entirely in Union City.
Navarro said he is a longtime fan of Stack and has praised his tenure as mayor.
“I am not trying to become a political enemy to the mayor since I am a big supporter, I am simply looking to finally push for a higher service,” Navarro told the New Jersey Globe. “Brian Stack has changed a lot of things for Union City and has done a lot of great things and I want nothing more but to continue to make Union City a great city to our residents and our families at the county level.”
He faces an uphill battle against Stack’s political organization, which is one of the strongest in the state.
In the 2017 gubernatorial primary, Union City had a 53% turnout and Stack delivered 89% of the vote to his preferred candidate, Phil Murphy.
As a point of comparison, Jersey City had a 28% turnout and Murphy, who was on the Hudson Democratic organization line, received 54% of the vote there.
In New Jersey, there are only three people who can deliver massive pluralities in one town on the strength of their personal endorsements: Stack, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and Rabbi Shmuel Blech, the leader of the Lakewood Vaad.
While Jersey City had 50,949 more Democrats than Union City, the turnout was just 9,167 higher. Murphy received only 1,490 votes more in Jersey City than Union City. While Union City represents just 11% of the total Democratic registration in Hudson County, it produced 20% of the total votes cast in the 2017 primary.
Democratic county committee members in Union City will hold a special election convention on Monday evening to fill the unexpired term of Rivas, a former Union City Commissioner.
Navarro said he will not challenge Cedeno on Monday.
“I am still learning about the process, but my petitions are currently being circulated amount my supporters,” Navarro said.
An emergency medical technician for the Union City Police Department, Navarro has worked as an EMT in North Bergen and for hospitals in Jersey City and Hackensack. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2008 to 2016.
Cedeno has served as a confidential aide to Stack at City Hall since 2015, and has also worked as a part-time aide in Stack’s 33rd district State Senate office and as an aide to Rivas in his freeholder office.