New Leader Hopes To Unify Linden Democrats

LINDEN – Former Councilman Charles Crane narrowly won election as Linden’s Democratic Party chairman last week. He defeated councilmen Derek Armstead and Eugene Davis, who also sought the post which became vacant when Edward Kologi stepped down in June.

The Democratic Party has been losing its influence in city politics in recent years. In 2006, the longtime mayor, Democrat John Gregorio was defeated by independent Richard Gerbounka. Gerbounka, a former Democrat, had previously been spurned by the party. So had Armstead, who easily defeated his primary opponent despite being bumped from the party line.

Crane says that he will work to unify the city’s Democratic Party. “I’ve already spoken to them (Armstead and Davis). I’m going to meet with them one-on-one to see what the problems are with the party. We have to unify the party.”

Armstead regarded the leadership change with caution. “Fences can be mended,” he said, “but it’s going to take a lot of work.”

Crane also plans to work to bring more young people into the party.

Nearly 60 percent of Linden’s 20,000 registered voters are Democrats. About 7,000 are unaffiliated and just over 1,200 are Republicans.

Linden’s 11-member city council is made up of eight Democrats and three independents.

Four City Council seats are up for election this November. The Fourth Ward seat currently held by Armstead, the Eighth Ward seat held by Democratic Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis, The Tenth Ward seat held by Councilman Bruce Howe, an independent, and Crane’s former seat in the Sixth Ward.

Crane stepped down from his City Council seat on July 1 after nearly 18 years of service. At the time he announced his resignation, Crane said that he planned to take some time to address a health issue and then planned to prepare for a 2010 mayoral run.

Crane said he has already transferred his council campaign funds into a “Crane for Mayor 2010” account.

Dot Markowski, Rose Masoros and Robert Sadowski were nominated as possible candidates to replace Crane on the council until after the November election. A replacement was expected to be named at Tuesday’s council meeting. Sadowski has filled to run for the seat in November.

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