Home>Campaigns>New Democratic majority takes office in North Caldwell, with Gottheimer swearing in his cousin

Rep. Josh Gotttheimer, right, administers the oath of office to his cousin, North Caldwell Councilman Steve Weinstein. (Photo: Office of Rep. Josh Gottheimer).

New Democratic majority takes office in North Caldwell, with Gottheimer swearing in his cousin

Republicans had control in North Caldwell for 124 years until today

By David Wildstein, January 02 2023 4:18 pm

Democrats took control of local government in North Caldwell for the first time in the borough’s 124-year history, with Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) returning to his hometown to swear in his cousin, Steve Weinstein, as a new councilman.

Joshua Raymond took office as the new mayor after ousting three-term GOP incumbent Joseph Alessi by 133 votes, 52%-48%.  Weinstein defeated Republican Councilman Kenneth Tilton by 75 votes, giving Democrats a 4-2 majority on the borough council in a signficant party flip for Essex Democrats.

All three had ties to the old Republican regime: Raymond had been a Republican councilman and Arthur Rees switched parties last year and won re-election as a Democrat.  Weinstein had contributed $20,000 to House Speaker Paul Ryan and the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2016.  He also gave $2,000 to his cousin’s House successful campaign to unseat seven term Rep. Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) that year.

“Steve, Mayor Raymond, and Councilman Rees ran as a purple party — putting issues and North Caldwell families over partisan politics, to do what’s right and required for the community,” said Gottheimer.  “Much like the Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, this team is about getting things done for everyone regardless of party.  These North Caldwell problem solvers went door to door to understand the issues — it was ‘a facts matter’ campaign that will put North Caldwell families first.”

Gottheimer grew up in North Caldwell before serving as a U.S. Senate page and working as a White House speechwriter during the Clinton administration.

 “I have no doubt that Steve, newly elected Mayor Raymond, and Councilman Rees, who won re-election, and the entire governing body, will do a phenomenal job alongside Councilmen Floria-Callori, Atlas, and Kessler,” Gottheimer said.  “They will be good fiscal stewards of the taxpayer dollars, focused on the families here — fighting for good services, standing by first responders, looking out for seniors and veterans, ensuring there are family friendly parks and open spaces including a usable Walker’s Pond, clean drinking water, and always protecting our Jersey Values.”

North Caldwell had been Republican enough to withstand the split between William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt in 1912, the blue wave that accompanied Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 landslide, and the 1973 and 1974 Watergate Democratic sweeps that caused other GOP strongholds to elect Democrats to municipal office.

Voter registration in North Caldwell is practically even, with 1,886 Republicans and 1,823 Democrat; the borough has 2,463 unaffiliated voters.

The 11th district’s Democratic congresswoman, Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) carried North Caldwell by ten percentage points and 328 votes, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, a Democrat, won North Caldwell by 836 votes and  massive 63%-37% margin.

Joe Biden carried North Caldwell by 236 votes in 2020, with U.S. Senator Cory Booker winning by 89 and Sherrill by 178.   In 2016, Donald Trump had a 122-vote plurality and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) won by 829.  Mitt Romney outpolled Barack Obama by 790 votes in 2012.  Sherrill won North Caldwell by 11 points in 2018 when she flipped Frelinghuysen’s seat.

In 2020, Democrats scored their first local victories in more than a century, with Anthony Floria-Callori (2,260) and Matthew Atlas (2,241) ousting two Republican incumbents, Chiaia (2,165) and Cynthia Santomauro (2,157).   Raymond backed the two Democratic candidates.

Republicans swept North Caldwell in 2021, with Jack Ciattarelli winning by 165 votes against Gov. Phil Murphy – a little better than Kim Guadagno’s 121-vote margin against Murphy in 2017. Republicans had carried North Caldwell by 597 votes in the 2009 governor’s race.

But last year, Democrats chose not to compete, allowing Republican Councilmen Robert Kessler and Francis Astorino to run unopposed.

Alessi, a former assistant Essex County Prosecutor, won 71% of the vote against independent Richard Verde in 2018.  He was unopposed in 2010, when he succeeded Mayor Mel Levine, and again in 2014.

In a joint campaign with his running mates, Weinstein raised $16,255, making him sort of a Dollar Store Gottheimer in comparison to the fundraising prowess of his more successful cousin, known nationally as the Human Fundraising Machine.

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