‘Democrats for Change’ Challenge Machine Pols

UNION COUNTY — A virulent anti-establishment sentiment among Democratic primary voters could take a real toll on some political insiders backed by the county political machine.

There is a slate running under the slogan “Democrats for Change” headed by Union County Sheriff candidate Charles E. Mitchell Sr., with Lisa McCormick of Rahway seeking the Democratic nomination for County Clerk and three freeholder candidates, Carmen Southward of Linden, Janet V. Reynolds of Roselle and Elcy Castillo-Ospina of Elizabeth.

Charles E. Mitchell Sr. and Lisa McCormick are seeking the Democratic nomination for Union County Sheriff and County Clerk.

Six city council candidates in Elizabeth are running under the  “Democrats for Change” banner: Diego Padilla in the First Ward, Carlos Lucio is the Second Ward, Armando DaSilva in the Third Ward, Councilman Carlos Cedeño in the Fourth Ward, Lester Dominguez in the Fifth Ward and Marlene Abitanto in the Sixth Ward.

Linden Councilman Derek Armstead is leading the slate as a candidate for mayor in Linden, where former Councilman James Moore is seeking the nomination for Council President. Councilman John Sheehy is running in the Seventh Ward, Rhashonna Cosby-Hurling in the Fifth Ward and Peter Brown in the Third Ward.

In Roselle, Rev. James Moore is challenging Council President Jamel Holley, the longtime aide to former Assemblyman Neil Cohen, who pled guilty child pornography charges earlier today. Moore, an ally of Mayor Garrett Smith, is pastor of the borough’s largest church, who has denounced his foe for advocating same sex marriage. Councilwoman Samantha Dow is seeking re-election in the Fourth Ward.

In Union Township, Angel Salcedo and Eduardo Espinal are the “Democrats for Change” candidates for Township Committee.

Salcedo and Espinal, who both earned MBAs from Kean University, offer a new generation of leadership in the township, where local government has been largely controlled by a single political boss over the past decade.

Renee G. Thrash, who retired from a position with the police department, is running for mayor in Rahway. Thrash served as a member of the Rahway Housing Authority and Union County Advisory Commission on the Status of Women, as well as Coordinator of the Rahway Municipal Alliance.

Joining her as candidates for City Council are three health care professionals, Dr. Yvonne Wesley, director of the New York University Institute for Nursing Leadership; Grace Jacquet, a school nurse; and Lynn Parker, another registered nurse.

Sheriff Ralph Froehlich wants to extend his 33 years in office and County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi wants to keep the job she has had for the past 27 years.

The Democrats for Change will challenge a slate selected by county political bosses that is  running under the slogan, ‘Regular Political Organization of Union County,’ which is being led by Sheriff Ralph Froehlich, who was first elected in 1977.

Appearing with the 80-year-old Sheriff will be longtime County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, who has also held elected offices since 1977 and has been a fixture at the Court House for the last 27 years.

These incumbents face tough intra-party challenges for the first time since 1980, when a local slate backed by the county political machine came in a distant third in the Elizabeth mayoral election.

Elizabeth city council incumbents are also under heavy fire for giving $2 million of taxpayer money to a contractor who was later convicted for paying bribes for the same kind of deals in another city.

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