Organization Candidates Fight Off Primary Challenges

AREA – Organization-backed candidates won most of the contested races on Tuesday’s primary ballots. The main exception was Linden.

Councilman Derek Armstead beat out Council President Robert Bunk and challenger John Fine for the Democratic Party nomination for mayor. Armstead, the Democrats for Change candidate, took 1,972 votes. Bunk, the organization candidate, had 1,704, while Fine drew just 282. Armstead will face Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka, an independent, in November.


Former Councilman James D. Moore, also running on the Democrats for Change slate, defeated Michele Yamakaitis 1,942 votes to 1,674 for the Democratic nomination for Council President. In the Third Ward council race, Peter A. Brown Sr. held a narrow lead over Jorge Alvarez, 148-134. In the Fifth Ward, Democrats for Change candidate Rhashona Cosby-Hurling defeated Councilman Gene Davis 314-253. In the Seventh Ward, John D. Sheehy Jr. beat Ralph Strano 313-162. Second Ward Councilman Richard Koziol drew 200 votes without facing a primary challenge.

In Rahway, organization Democrats took the night. Freeholder Rick Proctor, Mayor James Kennedy’s hand-picked successor, defeated Democrats for Change candidate Renee Thrash 1,348-888. He will face Republican Patrick Cassio in the fall.

Three at-large council seats were also on the ballot, and incumbents Nancy Saliga, Sal Mione and James Baker easily defeated the Democrats for Change slate of Yvonne Wesley, Lynn Parker and Grace Jacquet. They will face Republicans James Grady, Kevin Retcho and Jeffrey Spatola in November. Incumbent Robert Rachlin will match up against Republican Larry Bodine for the remainder of an unexpired term representing the city’s First Ward; neither faced a primary challenge.

In Roselle, Councilman Jamel Holley defeated Democrats for Change candidate Rev. James Moore for the party nomination for an at-large council seat, 1,475 to 1,171. In the Fourth Ward, organization candidate Kim Shaw defeated Councilwoman Samantha Dow 307-206.

In Elizabeth, Fourth Ward Councilman Carlos Cedeno, running on the Democrats for Change slate, defeated his opponent Alina Alvarez 1,211 votes to 316.

Third Ward Democrats for Change candidate Armando Da Silva held a narrow 999-971 lead over Councilman Joe Keenan after the voting machines were tallied. Absentee ballots gave Keenan a 1,038 to 1,014 victory, though Da Silva supporters were not prepared to admit defeat.

In the city’s four other wards, the organization party-backed incumbents held the advantage over the Democrats for Change candidates. First Ward Councilman Manny Grova defeated Diego Padilla 1,129-473. Second Ward Councilman Nelson Gonzalez held a 712-683 lead over Carlos Lucio. Fifth Ward Councilman William Gallman bested Democrats for Change candidate Lester Dominguez and challenger Eduardo Rodriguez. The candidates earned 719, 671, and 102 votes, respectively. Sixth Ward Councilman Frank Mazza beat Democrats for Change challenger Marlene Abitanto 805-637.

In Union, organization party candidates Clifton People and Suzette Cavadas defeated Democrats for Change candidates Angel Salcedo and Eduardo Espinal for the party’s nomination for two Township Committee seats. People won 1,307 votes; Cavadas, 1,216; Espinal, 478; and Salcedo, 460.

In the county-wide races, Sheriff Ralph Froehlich defeated Democrats for Change challenger Charles Mitchell, 12,386 votes to 11,373. He will face Republican Peter Lijoi in November. County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi beat Democrats for Change candidate Lisa McCormick, 12,784 votes to 10,266. She will face Republican Arthur P. Zapolski in the fall.

Freeholders Daniel Sullivan and Bette Jane Kowalski, and organization candidate Linda Carter, beat the Democrats for Change slate of Carmen Southward, Janet Reynolds and Elcy Castillo-Ospina in the freeholder races. Carter was the leading vote-getter with 12,984; Sullivan had 12,534; Kowalski 12,340; Reynolds 10,256; Southward 9,947; and Castillo-Ospina 9,475. The winners will face Republicans Ellen Dickson, Brian Flanagan and Elyse Bochiccio-Medved in Novemeber.

In Middlesex County, longtime New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill fended off a challenge from Patricia Bombelyn to win the Democratic Primary 1,515-810.

In Congressional races, Anna Little leads Diane Gooch by 104 votes in the 6th District Republican Primary. The winner will face Rep. Frank Pallone in November. In the 7th District, Rep. Leonard Lance easily fended off a trio of Tea Party challengers, winning 56 percent of the vote in the Republican Primary.

All election results were unofficial and do not include provisional and absentee ballots, which could alter the results of some races.

(Updated on June 11 to include absentee ballot results in Elizabeth Third Ward council primary.)

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