Council Battle Brewing In Roselle

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ROSELLE—The county political machine will battle it out this year with independent Democrats in Roselle, where control of the governing body could depend on the outcome of Rev. James Moore’s challenge to Council President Jamel Holley.

Holley, a longtime aide to former Assemblyman Neil Cohen—who faces criminal child pornography charges—incited his competitor with an outspoken defense of state Sen. Ray Lesniak’s gay marriage proposal, which stalled in the Legislature this month.


Moore is pastor of the borough’s largest church and an ally of Mayor Garrett Smith, who has denounced same sex marriage as a conflict with traditional community values.

Moore lambasted Lesniak, who choked back tears on the floor of the senate as he made his case for marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

“We’re talking about senators who took the oath of office with their hands on a Bible – a Bible that plainly says sodomy’s sin,” Moore said.  “That’s a mockery of God.”

Holley blocked an effort by Moore and other Roselle clergy to encourage the council to pass a resolution denouncing the gay marriage legislation.

Moore, 57, is the pastor of Second Baptist, the oldest African-American church in town, a pristine, gray-shingled building that has occupied the same corner since 1890.

Although Holley, 31, escaped serious punishment despite being charged with voter fraud last summer, the issue has surely not been dismissed from the court of public opinion.

Those criminal charges rose in connection with his alleged attempt to steal two 2005 primary elections for borough council by illegally casting absentee ballots on behalf of voters.

Also considered an issue is Holley’s $75,000 county job and his efforts to obstruct Smith from moving ahead with an agenda for the community by leading a council stacked 4-2 against the mayor.

Moore has been supportive of Smith’s efforts to cut government spending, eliminate overpaid political appointees and create more jobs through the Urban Enterprise Zone.

A Roselle resident for over 53 years who served as president during part of his 12 years on the school board, Moore is known for his down-to earth and friendly demeanor and his uncanny ability to “never forget a name.”

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