A local police union endorsement in the Republican primary for Somerset County sheriff led to a disagreement between a first time candidate and a PBA local that is unaccustomed to political campaigns.
North Plainfield police chief Bill Parenti announced that that his hometown union, PBA local 85, had endorsed him.
But the president of the union, Sabrina Romasz, told the New Jersey Globe that was not the case.
“We never endorsed him,” Romasz said.
The State PBA by-laws prohibit most locals, like the one in North Plainfield, to make independent political endorsements.
The local union president said that Parenti wrote the press release.
“He sent me a quote to say ‘this is what you said’ and I removed endorsed and said we support him,” Romasz said.
An e-mail chain between the two obtained by the Globe shows that Romasz changed the word endorse to support.
The original text written by Parenti said that ““we are proud to announce our resounding endorsement of our brother, Chief Parenti, to succeed Sheriff Provenzano.”
Romasz responded to Parenti with some changes, replacing endorse with support.
“Speaking on behalf of PBA Local #85, President Sabrina Romasz announces that the brothers and sister(s) of Local #85 voted to support their brother, Chief Parenti, to succeed Sheriff (Frank) Provenzano,” the new quote said.
Romasz explained that her union instead offered a sort of “we wish you well” voice of support rather than a formal endorsement.
Parenti pushed back on that.
“There was an endorsement,” the chief said. “It was voted to give me an endorsement.”
Romasz and Parenti admitted that they were both political newcomers and their disagreements are probably a matter of semantics.
Tim Pino, a former sheriff’s officer who is challenging Parenti at the Somerset Republican convention later this month, says that endorsement releases need to be accurate.
“If he hasn’t been endorsed it definitely sends the wrong message to the Somerset County GOP electorate,” Pino said.