A former deputy mayor of Paterson will seek the Democratic nomination for Passaic County freeholder, challenging two five-term incumbents for the endorsement of the county party organization.
Derya Taskin, who served as deputy mayor under Joey Torres and Ruby Cotton, submitted her resume yesterday to run against Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore.
Passaic Democrats will also be asked to choose between incumbent Sheriff Richard Berdnik and his predecessor, Paterson police director Jerry Speziale.
Taskin said her candidacy is completely unrelated to the decision by the freeholder board to not reappoint Bill Pascrell III as county counsel after 21 years. Duffy had resisted making the change, which had been approved by Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie.
“I’ve been deputy mayor. I have the passion for this job,” Taskin told the New Jersey Globe. “Every U.S. citizen has the right to screen.”
But Taskin insisted that she is not targeting Duffy or Lepore, noting that she screened last year when three other incumbents were seeking re-election.”
“I’m screening just so leaders know that I am interested,” said Taskin, who indicated that she will not challenge Duffy or Lepore in the June primary.
Taskin says it’s time for the seven-member freeholder board to have more than one women.
“Maybe with a second woman there might be a different perspective,” she said.
Sandi Lazzara is the lone women freeholder.
Taskin’s candidacy is about getting in line so that party leaders will remember her the next time there is an open seat.
But she expressed some frustration with the lack of opportunities to run for countywide office.
“If only incumbents run, when will the news ones, the younger versions, have a chance to run?” Taskin asked.
Duffy and Lepore were elected in 2004, ousting Republican incumbents Walter Porter and Michael Mecca.
The defeat of the two incumbents – Porter had spent 24 years as a freeholder and Mecca was the Republican county chairman – have Democrats a 7-0 majority on the Board of Freeholders.
Taskin, a Turkish-American businesswoman, became deputy mayor of Paterson, NJ in 2016. She is the president of Paterson Turkish American Association and a commissioner of the Paterson Library and Museum Board.
Mayor Andre Sayegh did not retain Takin when he took office in July 2018.