Great old photo from Essex County — the day Peter Shapiro was sworn in as the first Essex County Executive in 1979: clockwise starting from the bottom left – former Newark City Councilman Calvin West; Essex County Freeholders Renee Lane, Daniel Tindell, Pearl Beatty, Angelo Cifelli, and Lincoln Turner; and Harry Wheeler, one of Newark’s top political insiders.
Shapiro, a 26-year-old two-term assemblyman, narrowly defeated Sheriff John Cryan in the 1978 Democratic primary to become the first Essex County Executive. But five of Cryan’s freeholder candidates also won the primary: incumbent Martin Scaturo, Verona mayor Jerome Greco, and East Orange councilwoman Bernice Davis on the At-Large slate, and Angelo Cifelli in District 1. Shapiro running mates Lincoln Turner (At-Large), Daniel Tindall in District 3, Renee Lane in District 4 and Robert Russo in District 5. Pearl Beatty won the District 2 primary without affiliating with any of the slates.
In the general election, Democrats won 8 freeholder seats. Russo lost in District 5 to Republican Jim Piro by a few dozen votes.