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Paterson Mayor-elect Andre Sayegh

Sayegh, Gusciora, Pallone and Melham take office today

Baraka and Davis begin second terms

By David Wildstein, July 01 2018 12:01 am

Four new mayors will be sworn in today as Andre Sayegh in Paterson, Reed Gusciora in Trenton, John Pallone in Long Branch and Michael Melham in Belleville take the oaths of office.

Sayegh, Pallone and Melham won May non-partisan municipal elections and Gusciora won a June runoff.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, both re-elected to second terms in May, will also be sworn in today.    The new Newark Central Ward councilman, LaMonica McIver, will take office today, along with eight re-elected councilmembers.

Gov. Phil Murphy is scheduled to attend swearing in event in Paterson, Long Branch, Newark and Bayonne.

Sayegh. a 44-year-old councilman becomes Paterson’s first Arab-American mayor in a city where a majority of voters are Black or Hispanic.  But Sayegh drew wide support from all minority communities in his bid to bring the city together after the criminal conviction of Mayor Joey Torres last year.  He won a landslide victory, winning the office on his third try with 41% of the vote.

Incumbent councilwoman Maritz Davila will take the oath for another term, along with newcomers Lilisa Mimms and Flavio Rivera.

Gusciora replaces Eric Jackson, who decided not to seek re-election to a second term.  The eleven-term assemblyman becomes the first openly gay mayor of Trenton and the first white mayor since Arthur Holland died in 1989.

Robin Vaughn and Joseph Harrison will take office as members of the city council.  Vaughn ousted City Council President Zachary Chester, while Harrison won the seat left vacant when Verlina Jackson-Reynolds won a special election convention for the State Assembly. Re-elected incumbents Marge Caldwell-Wilson and George Muschal will also be sworn in to new terms.

Pallone defeated incumbent Adam Schneider, who was tossed out of office after 28 years in a massive 62%-33% rout.  Pallone, a councilman, is the brother of Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., a longtime and bitter rival of Schneider.

Schneider found himself under fire for his relationships with developers, including the Kushner family, and for his refusal to back project labor agreements that caused several unions to jump into the fray in support of Pallone.  Even though the race is technically non-partisan, Long Branch is predominately Democratic, and Schneider is on the defensive after endorsing Republicans like Chris Christie and Jennifer Beck.

Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli, who ran with Schneider five times before joining the Pallone slate, was re-elected.  She will be joined on the council by Rose Widdis, Bill Dangler, Mario Viera., and Anita Voogt.  Three incumbents running on Schneider’s slate lost their bids for re-election: Joy Bastelli, Kate Billings and Michael Sirianni.

Melham defeated three-term incumbent Raymond Kimble.  His two running mates, Thomas Graziano and Naomy De Peña, will also get sworn in to their council seats.  Longtime incumbent Kevin Kennedy was defeated in his bid for re-election.

Baraka won a second term with a massive 77% against Central Ward councilwoman Gayle Cheneyfield Jenkins.  His entire city council slate also won.

Davis was re-elected to a second term with 57% of the vote against former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell.

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