For those who mock the importance of county committee elections, consider the role the local district leaders have played in Rockaway Township over the last four months.
In April, one Republican candidate filed a lawsuit alleging that Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi had improperly instructed municipal clerks on the legal number of petition signatures required. A Superior Court Judge ruled that Grossi had violated the law by failing to understand the law, but let the seven candidates who filed flawed petition remain on the ballot since the error wasn’t their fault.
Morris County was in the midst of a hotly contested race for Republican County Chairman. In June, Ronald DeFilippis defeated Rob Zwigard by just four votes, 242-239. Since the faction of the Rockaway GOP that survived the petition challenge were DeFilippis supporters, it’s safe to say that he won because of the votes of the flawed-petition candidates.
On August 15, Mayor Michael Dachisen died unexpectedly at age 58. GOP county committee members met two weeks later to pick three candidates for mayor. The Township Council may pick one of the three, or send the choice back to the district leaders who will then pick the new interim mayor.
Either way, since Dachisen’s death came after the primary election, county committee members of both parties will pick the general election candidates for the special election for mayor.
If Jay Webber wins his race for Congress, Republican county committee members in the 26th legislative district would meet in January to fill his State Assembly seat.
In the New Jersey Legislature today, one Senator and nine Assembly members are serving after winning a 2017 special election – all elected by members of the county committee.