Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera will not seek re-election to a fourth term, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed, setting up a hugely competitive mayoral race this fall in one of the state’s most historically competitive swing towns.
Paramus Democrats are set to hold a screening committee meeting on Monday night, with Councilwoman MariaElena Bellinger viewed likely Democratic candidate to replace LaBarbiera.
Republican Councilman Christopher DiPiazza is widely expected to be the Republican mayoral candidate.
Republicans took control of the Paramus Township Council in 2021 when Ace Adrian Antonio and Robert Kaiser flipped two seats. One of the losers was Councilwoman Holly Tedesco-Santos, the daughter of Bergen County Executive and former Paramus Mayor James Tedesco. That gave the GOP a 4-1 majority.
Paramus went for Republican Jack Ciattarelli in last year’s gubernatorial race by 1,043 votes, 56%-44%, against Gov. Phil Murphy. Murphy carried Paramus in 2017 by 265 votes, 51%-47%, against Republican Kim Guadagno.
Donald Trump carried Paramus twice. He won it by 253 votes, 60%-48%, in 2016, and by 169 votes, 50%-49%, in 2020.
Bellinger is serving her fourth term and DiPiazza is in his second.
In 2020, DiPiazza was the top vote-getter with 7,887 votes, with Bellinger finishing second with 7,767. She edged out Republican Michael Rohdieck (7,471) and Democrat Dominick Minervini (7,451).
Paramus Republicans are also shopping for a new councilman after Joseph Vartolone resigned last week as the deputy director of PATH Operations at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Vartolone had previously spent six years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York.
Vartolone was up for re-election this year. The favorite to succeed him on an interim basis is John Migliaccio, a state Department of Corrections employee. Migliaccio will likely run with longtime GOP Councilwoman Jeanne Weber.
The 55-year-old LaBarbiera was elected to the township council in 2004 and served six years before the retirement of Tedesco set up an open seat. LaBarbiera defeated Republican Sam Casiello by 309 votes, 52%-48%. Two Republican council candidates also won that year.
He was re-elected with 61% in 2014 and 61% in 2018.
Despite the political competitiveness of the town, Paramus mayors have little turnover. LaBarbiera is just the fifth mayor since Lyndon B. Johnson was president.