Passaic and Bergen elections 2007

A last-minute overview of tomorrow's elections in Bergen and Passaic Counties:

Passaic County

Let's start with the Freeholder races. The GOP's "odd couple" - the bookish Jerry Holt and the entertaining Joe Stinziano - face off against incumbents Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore. The centerpiece issue is the sham pseudo-sale of the Passaic County Golf Course to plug budget holes created by out-of-control hiring of Democrat cronies that my kids are going to be paying for.

Both The Record and the Herald News gave a split endorsement - Holt and Duffy. You've got to give Duffy credit for having the integrity to see that the Golf Course sale was bad policy (at best) or for having the political fitness to recognize that he could insulate his re-election by opposing it (at worst).

I recall election night in 2003, four years ago. John Traier came within a few points of knocking out Sonia Rosado. Jan Sandri and Randy George weren't far off either. I remember then-Chairman Mike Mecca telling me that his Democrat counterpart John Currie saw the low turnout coming out of Paterson and was ready to concede the election before even seeing the returns from up-county. But Currie held out hope and, lo and behold, the GOP didn't get out the vote in Ringwood, Wayne, and Wanaque, etc., which enabled the Democrats to keep control of the board.

Turnout is likely to be low this year, which should benefit the Republicans, but the circumstances are different. At that time, Mecca and Walter Porter still held seat on the Board, and a win of 2 out 3 by the GOP in 2003 would have given our party control. So basically that enabled the raising of more money than has been raised since, when the prospect of GOP control is at best 2 elections away at any given time even under ideal circumstances. (continued...)

Jerry Speziale provides an anchor mid-ballot, although he is running unopposed for re-election as Sheriff, which is a shame on principle. Also to be decided is the Surrogate - incumbent Democrat Bill Bate faces newcomer Jeremias Batista. Bate won the Herald News endorsement, despite the fact that they said practically nothing at all about Batista or what he might be able to do.

In the Assembly, we have the O'Toole-Russo-Rumana team expected to sail to victory in District 40 after an annoying, money-wasting primary. In District 35, the Reverend Al Steele, a Paterson-based Assemblyman who greets everyone by saying "I Love Ya!" is behind bars after being caught taking bribes. I wonder if he'll drop that phrase from his vocabulary now given his new surroundings. The Democrats plopped in the bossy Freeholder Elease Evans as Steele's replacement. She faces Chauncey I. Brown III, who ran in the 2005 Assembly Primary unsuccessfully but nonetheless retains a base in Paterson thanks to his role on the School Board, as a Paterson fireman, and his mother's ties to the community (she is currently Paterson GOP municipal leader). Chauncey won the endorsement of The Record, but not the Herald News, which said that he "failed to mount a campaign whose vigor matches his intelligence and commitment to public service". It's not easy to be an underfunded challenger.

In District 34, the controversial (because of his position on gays) Reverend Clenard Childress, who ran unsuccessfully in the Democrat primary for the same seat in 2005, earned the GOP endorsement alongside Robert Bianco of Montclair. The Record split its endorsement between Oliver and Bianco, while the Herald News chose the 2 incumbent Democrats. But Childress earned the high praise of my friends at Conservatives with Attitude, thanks to his strong pro-life stand.

Bergen County

In District 39, Gerald Cardinale believes he deserves re-election because his law partner's uncle's wife's cousin's former roommate's dog-groomer once overheard a terrorist in a men's room. Write in Bob Schroeder, who should have primaried out Cardinale from the start.

District 38 was looking close on the Senate side for Bob Colletti, until Joe Coniglio was yanked thanks to his legal troubles. Assemblyman Bob Gordon takes his spot and will be tough to beat. Although, I am surprised that The Record stuck with 3 Democrats.

In District 36, the underfunded youngster Michael Guarino has been giving Paul Sarlo sleepless nights thanks to his position on EnCap. Sarlo refused to debate Guarino, and even backed out at the last minute of a TV appearance on New Jersey Now to discuss the race. I guess he was having a bad hair day. Guarino says:
"We know Sen. Sarlo has no explanation for why he supported the $300 million taxpayer rip off known as EnCap. We know that Sarlo is ducking the report on EnCap by the State Inspector General. And we know he fears an investigation into EnCap by the US Attorney. Now he apparently fears me."
He added that Sarlo is hiding from several facts:
  1. he failed to protect taxpayers and he failed to protect people living in the Meadowlands from a deal to give a politically connected developer $300 million in taxpayer loans
  2. he used his Senate position to sponsor key legislation (S1564) that allowed EnCap to get more taxpayer money
  3. For every $1 in private investment by EnCap's investors, state taxpayers are ponying up almost $20
  4. he has used his power to get at least 4 public jobs and to boost his state pension
Despite all this, the Herald News gave a clean sweep to the Democrats in their endorsement. Bravo to the The Record however, which did just the opposite.

As far as the Bergen Freeholders go, have a look at their debate. Thanks to Andy Gause for getting this online. The 3 candidates played interesting roles: Charlie Kahwaty as the Good Cop, Bob Yudin as the Bad Cop, and Paul Duggan as the Spirit Guide. They do make a good team and their opponents, with the exception of Thomas Padilla, came across as very haughty. I must say that Bob Yudin nailed them on several points, which proves that when he restricts his commentary to the Western hemisphere he can deliver a compelling message. This group, along with Harry Shortway for Sheriff, really does deserve to win (The Record heartily agrees) and if they don't, I suspect there will be a LOT of grumbling at the BCRO about how much support they received from newly elected Chairman/newly hired lobbyist Rob Ortiz.

Finally, a plug for my friend Mark Meyerowitz down in District 27, who had a glimmer of hope when Mims Hackett was indicted alongside Al Steele. But the Democrats plugged in a replacement and thus have the advantage - this is Dick Codey's district. Rick Shaftan has a plan to win this one in the future though...

And in closing - VOTE NO ON ALL BALLOT QUESTIONS! Here's why.