In a stunning development, Abdur Yasin was elected West Orange Democratic Municipal Chairman on Tuesday night, defeating 21-year-old Andrew Trenk by a 29 to 20 vote.
The incumbent, Sal Anderton, told party leaders on Monday that he would not seek re-election and didn’t advise the full county committee until sometime today.
Yasin is a West Orange fire captain and fire inspector and a longtime leader of Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association Local 28.
Trenk is the son of Township Attorney Richard Trenk, who was Cory Booker’s law partner. He is a student at Rutgers University who volunteered on campaigns for Booker and Mayor Robert Parisi.
Sources say that Yasin’s candidacy was unexpected. He had served as secretary of the local Democratic Party and had no plans to seek the chairmanship until Anderton’s last-minute announcement that he would not be a candidate. He sensed an opportunity to move up against a very young opponent who had been handpicked by Anderton and Parisi.
The secret ballot worked to the advantage of Yasin. One source said that Trenk would have won an open vote.
The West Orange Democratic Party had long been controlled by the Richard Codey wing of the Essex Democrats, which includes Parisi and Assemblyman John McKeon. While Trenk would have continued that trend, Yasin is widely viewed as a free agent who has no real connection to Codey or Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.