EDISON – Democrat Antonia Ricigliano is the heavy favorite going into Tuesday’s mayoral election. It’s been more than 50 years since Edison didn’t elect a Democrat to the mayor’s office, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 25,500 to 6,000.
A two-term councilwoman, Ricigliano beat incumbent Mayor Jun Choi in the township’s Democratic primary in June. From the beginning, she’s linked Choi to the township’s financial problems and lack of government transparency.
Ricicilano, 71, promises to stabilize the town’s financial problems and downsize government. Her plan focuses on stopping wasteful spending, citing examples of eliminating unnecessary consulting fees and limiting use of township vehicles to township business, rather than commuting. Ricigliano also promised to order an audit and wants to institute a Taxpayers Advisory Board to review town finances.
“We have to do something,” Ricigliano said. “The next couple years, reducing taxes is an impossibility. My only hope is I don’t have to raise them.”
Ricigliano’s Republican opponent, Dennis Pipala, has his own plans for dealing with Edison’s finances. His Taxpayer Rescue Program would reduce spending, downsize government, make the township more friendly for new businesses, and eventually re-negotiate with unions.
Pipala, chairman of Edison’s Planning Board, has extensive experience in the business world, which he believes will allow him to steer Edison in “new direction” “where the taxpayers are in charge and not the politicians.”
Though Pipala said that Ricigliano has outspent him 4-to-1, he believes that momentum from Republican Chris Christie’s challenge to Jon Corzine in the governor’s race plus voter disenchantment with the spilt in the local Democratic organization give him a good chance at victory.
Ricigliano has done her part to tie Pipala to Choi. Pipala was co-chair of Choi’s 2005 mayoral campaign and a member of the mayor’s transition team. And Pipala has tried to link Ricigliano to special interests – her election bid is being supported by the police and fire unions. Still, the campaign has been relatively quiet.
Two independent candidates are also in the race. Joseph Coyle, former chairman of the town’s Neighborhood Preservation Program, is running to reduce taxes and end the “club politics” of the Democratic party.
Local businessman Peter Cerrato wants to reduce taxes and establish a cultural center in town to promote greater understanding among Edison’s diverse population.
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