ROSELLE — Three contenders filed as candidates in the Democratic primary election for mayor in the Borough.
Incumbent Mayor Garrett Smith is being supported by Rev. James Moore and Benjamin Muhhamed, Democrats seeking nomination for council in the First and Third Wards, respectively.
Smith has labored under fierce opposition from establishment politicians to reduce taxes and eliminate political patronage jobs during his eight years in office.
Former Councilman Joseph O’Halloran is running on the ‘Democrats for Change’ slate, which is waging an aggressive campaign to defeat state Sen. Raymond Lesniak.
O’Halloran brought an action against Borough Clerk Rhona C. Bluestein, which resulted in a fine imposed by the Government Records Council.
O’Halloran was also implicated as a member of the council when the Blue Chips sports program was paid more than $200,000 out of taxpayer coffers without proper bidding or accounting practices. O’Halloran, who was initially appointed to the council and twice re-elected without opposition, declined to seek a third term in 2005.
Councilman Jamel Holley, the candidate preferred by county political bosses, has controlled a majority on the borough council that has issued late tax bills, increased levies on local homeowners and obstructed Smith’s reform efforts.
Holley has hired Hudson County political operative Paul Swibinski, who ran the campaign for the short-tenured Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano III, who resigned just three weeks after taking office as a casualty of the FBI’s largest sting operation in New Jersey history.
Holley is expected to go on the offensive, despite his involvement in a 2006 election fraud scandal, which earned him a year on probation.
Smith said he is prepared to defend his record to municipal voters who know he is the only candidate in the race who has worked to secure a better quality of life and more efficient government service.
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