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Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo at a polling location in Roseland on June 5, 2018

Democrats look to take over Roseland

Split GOP gives Dem a shot at control

By David Wildstein, June 20 2018 11:32 am


The Roseland political war continues, just without former Gov. Richard Codey.

A slate backed by to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo easily defeated Codey’s bid to gain control of the Roseland Democratic Party.  Now those Democrats have set their sights on the general election, where they have a good chance of taking control of local government.

Democrats are already running a smart campaign.   Republicans have controlled Roseland (pop. 5,885) for years, but the GOP is severely fractured.

Former mayor Michael Pacio, who was a Republican, then a Democrat, and now a Republican again, won the GOP mayoral primary with 58% of the vote running off the organization line.  His running mates for two Borough Council seats also won the primary. Three Republicans allied with outgoing mayor John Duthie and councilman Tom Tsilionis, filed to run as independents.

The Democratic candidate for mayor is James Spango, whose mother, Patty Spango, is a former West Orange council president and Democratic Municipal Chair.  She is also the owner of a local institution, the Starlite Restaurant and Pizzeria.  The Democratic council candidates are Roger Freda, who came within 43 votes of winning last year, and Eileen Fishman, who won 49% in a 2003 special election for Essex County Freeholder.

The newest skirmish in Roseland is over law signs, and if the Democratic response is any indication of how they are running the fall campaign, Republicans are in real trouble.

“Let’s set the record straight – in both the November General Election and this past Primary in June the Roseland Democrats did not  have any back door, secret, non-transparent agreement regarding lawn signs,” a statement from the local Democratic ticket read.  “That’s usually how the Republicans in town run government.”

The Democrats – in a well-crafted, passive-aggressive style – say they are concerned that Republicans have made lawn signs their first issue: “All six registered Republicans are more worried about lawn signs then lowering taxes, creating a transparent government, or stopping the expansion of the Compressor station in town.”

Then Spango and company landed a nice punch: “It’s also interesting that in 2016, none of these Republicans made any stink about the “Donald Trump for President” signs that adorned many houses in our borough.”

And the final blow: “Going door to door, talking face to face with voters, and asking for their support to place a sign on their front lawn is very hard work that takes time and dedication – the same time and dedication needed to change our government for the better. We are surprised the Republicans are not willing to work hard; it says a lot about their candidacies.  Roseland needs elected officials who are willing to work hard to get the job done, so that families are proud to raise their children in Roseland.”

The Democratic ticket says that” lawn signs are not going to make the difference.” But Team Spango has introduced an interesting challenge for the general election.  They say they will agree to forego any more Spango/Fishman/Freda lawn signs, if the other six candidates will agree to three debates.

“There is a movement in town, a movement away from this tainted, Republican-led government. Roseland needs change – not the kind of change that six candidates from the same Republican Party who led us into this mess can bring, but real change that the Spango, Fishman, Freda team will deliver,” the Democratic statement said.

Running with a Pacio are former councilman John Derites and Patricia Braga.  The independent council candidates are Robin Cassidy and Joe Shearn.

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