Former Judges Face Off To Replace O’Leary On Ballot

MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Two former judges are the leading contenders to replace South Amboy Mayor John O’Leary on the Democratic ticket this fall to run for a seat in the state Assembly now held by Joseph Vas.

Retired Superior Court Judge Mathias Rodriguez of Perth Amboy and former Edison Municipal Court Judge Craig J. Coughlin of Woodbridge are the front-runners in a field that also includes health care professional Jean Pierce of Woodbridge. Democrats will choose a candidate during a convention on Sept. 2 at the Forge Inn on Route 9 in Woodbridge.


Coughlin has the support of O’Leary, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, while Rodriguez has the backing of Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.

Woodbridge Councilman Charles Kenny also filed his name for consideration, but withdrew from the race and threw his support to Coughlin last week. Perth Amboy businesswoman Arlene Acosta, who was thought to be interested in the position, did not file with the county Democratic Committee.

O’Leary withdrew from the race on Aug. 17, saying that he did not have the resources to combat political attacks and anonymous allegations against him. O’Leary was chosen as the replacement for former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, who was indicted in March on federal and state corruption charges.

The 19th District, which includes Carteret, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy and Woodbridge, is heavily Democratic. Republicans Richard Piatkowski and Peter Kothari will run against Assemblyman John Wisniewski and whoever is selected at the convention.

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