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The polls are now open in 14 N.J. municipalities

By David Wildstein and Nikita Biryukov, May 11 2021 6:00 am

Norman Rockwell, Election Day, 1944.  (Photo: Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.)

Good morning, New Jersey.

Today is Election Day in fourteen municipalities that hold non-partisan municipal elections.  The polls opened at 6 AM and close at 8 PM, even in Cedar Grove.

The race to watch is in Collingswood, a sort of Montclair of South Jersey, where a progressive slate is battling two incumbents – one in office for the last 32 years – supported by the formidable Camden County Democratic machine

Also at the top of the list: Bordentown, Hackensack, Haddonfield, Lyndhurst, South Orange and Verona.

Collingwood Mayor James Maley, first elected in 1989, and Commissioner Robert Lewandowski, who works for the Laborers’ International Union, are seeking re-election. Their running mate, Morgan Robinson, is a shop owner seeking to replace retiring Commissioner Joan Leonard.

They face challenges from Collingswood Democratic Municipal Chairwoman Kate Delaney, Bill Johnson, a county committeeman, and Jen Rossi, a leader of the Collingswood Educational Advocacy Group.

Delaney won the municipal chair in 2019 when her off the line slate of progressive challengers upset the county committee ticket backed by the Camden County Democratic organization.

The governing body in Collingswood is comprised of three members, so any combination of two determines control.  Still, as a commissioner form of government, each of the three would head up some departments.

Two state Treasury officials are challenging incumbents in Bordentown. Mayor James Lynch and Commissioner Joseph Myers face challenges from Jennifer Sciortino, the Treasury’s communications director, and Ed Foley, a pension and benefits specialist.  Another incumbent, John Brodowski, has dropped out of the race but his name remains on the ballot.

Before joining the State Treasurer’s office, Sciortino served a deputy press secretary to Gov. Richard Codey, as press secretary to the Senate President while Codey occupied that post, and as deputy communications director for the Assembly Majority Office.

Fifteen candidates are seeking office in Hackensack, where Mayor John Labrosse is running for re-election to a third term, with Deputy Mayor Kathleen Canestrino and Council members Leonardo Battaglia and Stephanie Von Rudenborg.

They’re joined by Gerard Carroll, a retired teacher who replaces Deputy Mayor David Sims, who is running a rival slate. They’re running as the “Labrosse Team.”

Sims was dropped from the incumbent ticket after bringing a family member who tested positive for COVID-19 into city hall. He’s now running on a ““Coalition for Clean Government” slate with Carlos Merina, Fred Miller, Venus Nelson and Modesto Romero, a Republican who challenged Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in 2017.

New Jersey Citizen Action director of development Leila Amirhamzeh, Bergen County NAACP economic development chair Randy Glover, Hackensack Chamber of Commerce member Andee Post, educator Caseen Gaines and business owner Mary Lopez will run on the “For Hackensack’s Future” slate.

Eight candidates will face off for three commission seats in Haddonfield. Incumbent Commissioners Colleen Bianco Bezich and Jeffrey Kasko are seeking re-election. They face Adam Puff, Kathryn Raiczyk, Kevin Roche, Mark Rusc, Frank Troy and Daniel Zhang.

Kasko is the Republican State Committeeman from Camden County.

Mayor Neal Rochford is not seeking re-election.

In Lyndhurst Incumbent Mayor Robert Giangeruso and Commissioners Karen Haggerty, John Montillo, and Richard Jarvis Sr. are seeking re-election alongside newcomer Louis DeMarco. They’re running on the “Lyndhurst Unity” slate. Incumbent Commissioner Thomas DiMaggio is not seeking re-election.

They face challenges from David Sivella, Elaine Stella, Darwin Belen, Brian Chiswell and Mykolas Perevicius, who are running on the “Clean Sweep 07071” slate.

Sivella, then a political unknown, was the Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the 36th district in 1997 and came within 1,028 votes of ousting Majority Leader Paul DiGaetano.   He is a former chairman of the Bergen County Housing Authority.

South Orange Village Trustee Karen Hartshorn Hilton is seeking re-election alongside Braynard “Bobby” Brown and William Haskins. They face a challenge from Neil Chambers. Brown ran for the Board of Trustees in 2019, placing fourth in race for three seats and losing by 351 votes. Haskins chairs the town’s Environmental Commission.

Incumbents Walter Clarke and Steve Schnall are not seeking re-election.

Mayor John McEvoy is the only incumbent seeking re-election in Verona this year. He faces four other candidates — Cynthia Holland, Jason Hyndman, Michael Nochimson and Christopher Tamburro for three open seats.

Nochimson ran in 2019 and lost by 17 votes.

Incumbents Ted Giblin and Kevin Ryan are not running again.

In the city of Passaic, Mayor Hector Lora faces challenges from Diomedes Minaya, who is making his third bid for the morality this year, and former Passaic NAACP president Jeffrey Dye, a perennial candidate who was ousted over a series of rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Latino Facebook posts and fired from his state job.

Council incumbents Jose Garcia, Terrence Love and Daniel Schwartz are seeking re-election. Minaya is running on a slate with Council candidate Lisa Abreu Wozniak.

Lora began his political career as a councilman in 2011 and was a two-term Passaic County freeholder – the first Dominican American – before becoming mayor in 2016 when Alex Blanco resigned following his guilty plea on bribery charges.

In the race to fill the remainder of Medford Lakes Mayor Robert Hanold’s unexpired term, Councilman Dennis O’Neil faces a challenge from former Councilman Joseph Aromando. Hanold died in January. O’Neil was appointed to fill the seat the next month.

Planning board alternate member Kristina Schmelz is the only challenger in Monmouth Beach, where incumbent Commissioner David Stickle is seeking re-election alongside chef Timothy Somers and Lawrence Bolsch, a certified public accountant.

Candidates in the four remaining municipalities are unopposed.

Incumbent Council members J.B. Feeley, John Gibson and Mary Tighe are seeking re-election in Sea Isle City.

In Cedar Grove, Mayor Kerry Peterson is seeking re-election with councilmen Joseph Zichelli and newcomer Melissa Skabich, a public relations executive.  Another incumbent, Joseph Cicala, is not seeking re-election.  Zichelli, a Seton Hall University law student, was appointed to fill a vacancy last year and won a 2020 special election after pummeling Robert Dombrowski by a 64%-36% margin.

Avalon Councilman John McCorristin is running for another term with Maura Coskey, a special education coordinator for the Avalon school district, and James McDermott Jr.

Incumbents James Deever and Nancy Hudanich did not file for re-election.

Audubon Borough Commissioners Robert Lee and Jeffrey Whitman are joined by Robert Jakubowski, an employee at the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services. Incumbent mayor John Ward not seeking re-election.

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