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Essex County Sherriff Armando Fontoura, left, with Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) at a St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2019. (Photo: Facebook.)

Sherrill endorses Fontoura for re-election

Venerable Essex sheriff seeking 11th term

By David Wildstein, May 16 2021 2:07 pm

Praising his efforts to get guns off the streets and his role in responding COVID-19, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) has endorsed Armando Fontoura for re-election to an 11th term as Essex County Sheriff.

“Sheriff Fontoura and his office have played a critical role in Essex County’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Sherrill said.  “Through his support, Essex County has been a national model in testing and vaccinating, a testament to his leadership and vigilance.”

Fontoura faces former Newark deputy police director John Arnold.  A third candidate, Barry Jackson, is also seeking the post.

Arnold, who also served as captain of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, is also the pastor of the Temple of Refuge Church in Newark.

Fontoura has run against Arnold once before.  In 2012, he beat him by 25,835 votes, 62%-19%, in a four-candidate primary.

The 10-term sheriff also fended off a primary challenge in 2009, defeating two challengers with 80% of the vote.

Two Republicans are competing in the June primary: Nicholas Pansini and Maureen Edelson.

Pansini has the backing of the Essex County Republican organization.  Edelson, a former Montclair council candidate, is running on a slate headed by gubernatorial candidate Hirsh Singh.

“Reinforced by his years of law enforcement experience in Newark, Sheriff Fontoura came to the Essex County Sheriff’s Office with the mindset to improve the department, a reason why the voters have reelected him time and time again,” stated Sherrill.  “Under Sheriff Fontoura’s lead, Essex County has made strides to reduce crime, revitalize court security, and get guns off the streets.”

Sherrill, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, said she was “proud to work with and join Sheriff Fountoura in his relentless calls for gun reform.”

Fontoura became sheriff in 1991 after the incumbent, Thomas D’Alessio resigned following his election as Essex County Executive.

In the primary election that year, Fontoura defeated Newark City Council President Ralph Grant.

Republicans had a three-way primary for sheriff between former Newark Police Director Louis Greenleaf, District 5 Freeholder Arthur Clay, and former State Sen. Anthony Imperiale (R-Newark).  Clay won the primary, with Greenleaf, who ran on the Essex GOP organization line, finishing third.

Despite a Republican wave election that flipped control of both houses of the New Jersey Legislature following Gov. Jim Florio’s $2.8 billion tax increase, Fontoura defeated Clay by about 11,000 votes, 55%-45%.

A ten-point victory was Fontoura’s worst showing in his ten campaigns for sheriff.  He was re-elected in 2018 by 146,990 votes, 82%-18% against Republican Pasquale Capozzoli, a Caldwell councilman.

A retired Newark police captain and assistant chief, D’Alessio hired him as undersheriff in 1986.

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