MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Five contenders have emerged to replace South Amboy Mayor Jack O’Leary on November’s ballot for a seat in the state Assembly representing the 19th District. Democrats will choose a candidate at a special convention on Sept. 2.
Edison Municipal Judge Craig J. Coughlin of Woodbridge is running with the backing of O’Leary. Coughlin was born and raised in South Amboy, and also served as a councilman there. Observers say he is the favorite to win the nomination.
Superior Court Judge Mathias Rodriguez stepped down from the bench earlier this month and began a series of public appearances at the Dominican festival in Perth Amboy on Aug. 16.
Woodbridge Councilman Charles Kenny is also interested in the post. Healthcare advocate Jean Pierce of Woodbridge and Arlene Acosta of Perth Amboy, once a supporter of Assemblyman Joseph Vas, are also factors.
O’Leary dropped out of the assembly race last week in the wake of a series of anonymous allegations. Vas decided not to run for re-election after being indicted on numerous state and federal charges.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski and whoever wins the nomination at the convention will face Republicans Richard Piatkowski of Perth Amboy and Peter Kothari of Woodbridge in November.
The 19th District consists of Carteret, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy and Woodbridge
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