Party-Backed Candidates Had A Good Night

Updated at 12:08 p.m., June 8, 2011

STATE – Candidates who ran on their party’s line in Tuesday’s primary elections dominated the winners’ column.

In one of the most closely-watched contests, state Sen. Ray Lesniak and his running mates, Asm. Joe Cryan and Asw. Annette Quijano, held off a challenge by a slate associated with the Elizabeth school board in the Democratic 20th Legislative District primary.


Lesniak beat Jerome Dunn, an assistant school superintendent in Elizabeth, 54 percent to 46 percent. Cryan and Quijano defeated challengers Tony Monteiro and Carlos Cedeno with more than 1,500 votes separating the winners from the losers.

Monteiro, a former Elizabeth school board member, and Cedeno, an Elizabeth councilman, and Dunn prevailed in Elizabeth and Hillside. However, the incumbents won in Union and Roselle by large enough margins to negate that advantage.

The organization line Democrats bested a slate of Democrats for Change candidates in the Union County Freeholder primary. Incumbents Angel Estrada and Christopher Hudak and newcomer Vernell Wright each received approximately twice as many votes as their challengers: Marlene J. Abitanto, Erna Letemps and Elcy Castillo Ospina.

In a three-way race, Roselle Councilman Jamel Holley ousted Mayor Garrett Smith and beat Democrats for Change challenger Joseph O’Halloran in the borough’s mayoral primary. Holley, backed by the regular Democratic organization, won 1,652 votes. Smith came in second with 992, while O’Halloran received 769 votes.

Two council candidates allied with Holley won big. First Ward Councilman Yves Aubourg and Randy T. Sandifer, running in the 3rd Ward, bested challengers James E. Moore Sr. and Benjamin Harley Muhammad by a two-to-one margin in Roselle’s Democratic Primary.

In Linden’s Democratic contests, 8th Ward Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis defeated challenger Jacqueline D. Williams, 352 votes to 231. In the 10th Ward, Councilman Richard Puschel bested challenger Archie Strazella by an even larger margin, 327 votes to 181.

Christopher Struben defeated Robert Luban, who ran on the organization line, 486 votes to 457 in the Woodbridge Republican mayoral primary. A very close council-at-large race results in a split ticket on the November ballot.

Walter P. Kaczmarek of Woodbridge was the top vote-getter, with 482. Debra Reinhart of Fords had the third highest vote total, with 454. Both are allied with Struben. Susan Boros of Fords, who ran on the slate with Luban, received 458 votes – the second highest total.

The final spot on the Republican line in November will likely go to Struben running-mate Eduardo Ascolese of Iselin, who received 439 votes. However, Luban ally Kenneth Russo of Woodbridge received 438 votes, leaving open the possibility that a recount could alter the results.
Aaron Stange of Woodbridge, running with Struben, got 406 votes.

Anthony Cuntala of Avenel and Scott C. Brescher of Colonia, both running with Luban, received 401 and 400 votes respectively.

In the Woodbridge Democratic primary, challenger Jean M. Pierce fell short in her bid in the Council-At-Large contest. Organization-backed candidates Kyle Anderson, James V. Carroll, Gregg M. Ficarra and Brenda Y. Velasco each received at least 900 more votes than Pierce.

Plainfield incumbent Vera Greaves defeated challenger DeLois Dee Dameron in the Democratic Primary for Councilman-At-Large representing the 1st and 4th Wards, 580 votes to 310 votes. Second Ward Councilman Cory Storch beat challenger James Tony Rucker 589 votes to 447.

In Edison, 22-year-old Samip Joshi trailed four organization-backed Democrats, Robert J. Karabinchak, Michael R. Lombardi, Sudhanshu Prasad and Wayne Mascola, by approximately 500 votes in the Council-At-Large contest.

All vote totals are unofficial.

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