Four Major Candidates Vying To Replace Late Congressman

STATE – Two Newark city councilmen, a state senator and the mayor of Irvington will face off in the June Democratic Primary to determine who will replace the late U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne, who died last month.

Payne’s son, Newark City Council President Donald M. Payne Jr., is also a Freeholder in Essex County, where party Chairman Philip Thigpen has awarded him the coveted organization line.

State Sen. Nia Gill of Montclair was endorsed by the Hudson County Democratic organization. And Union County is giving the contenders an open primary, which means that they will all be bracketed together on ballot.

Newark Councilman Ron Rice picked up the endorsements of his fellow council members Ras Baraka and Darrin Sharif, who said “We believe he is the only candidate in this race with a true vision for the future of Newark and the 10th district as a whole.”

Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith rounds out the field’s leading contenders, while Democrats Dennis R. Flynn and Cathy Wright are also hoping to win the seat.

The special election to fill the remaining portion of the late Congressman’s term will be held on Nov. 6, the same time as the regular election for the seat.

Thanks to national population shifts, New Jersey lost a seat in Congress as a result of the 2010 Census. This creates a primary match up that pits Democrats Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell against each other to determine which one remains in Congress to represent the new 9th Congressional District.

In other local Congressional races, Republicans Anna Little and Ernesto Cullari will face off for the right to challenge Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6), while Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7) is being challenged in the Republican Primary by conservative David Larsen. Democrat Upendra Chivukula will take on the winner in November.

In Elizabeth, former city planning director Oscar Ocasio is challenging Mayor Christian Bollwage in the Democratic Primary. Running with Bollwage on the organization line are council members Manny Grova Jr., Frank Cuesta and Patricia Perkins-Auguste. Running on the opposition slate with Ocasio are Councilman Frank Mazza, Josue Anacius and Camilio Victoria.

Grova and Mazza serve on the council representing the First and Sixth Wards, respectively, but are seeking city-wide Council-At-Large positions in this year’s election.

In Linden, school board member Lisa Orman is challenging First Ward Councilman Christopher Kolibas in the Democratic Primary. Christopher Cherubino is running unopposed in the 9th Ward Democratic Primary. The ward is currently represented by Councilman Robert Frazier, who was elected as an independent in 2006 and 2009.

Independent candidates have until the day of the primaries – June 5 – to file their petitions to appear on November’s general election ballot.

City Council seats representing each of Rahway’s six wards are on the ballot this year, and two full slates are running in the Democratic Primary. In the First Ward, Rodney Farrar is running on the regular party line, Miriam Lugo is running with the “Democrats for Change” slogan and Wilbert Kirby is using the “It Is Time For A Change” slogan.

In the Second Ward, Councilman Michael Cox is running for re-election on the regular party line, against Scott Chaffee under the “Democrats for Change” slogan. Robert C. Bresenhan, Jr. is running for the Third Ward seat with the support of the Regular Democratic Organization against challenger Joseph J. Velotti.

Fourth Ward Councilman David Brown has the party line in his re-election bid; his challenger is former mayoral candidate Renee Bridges Thrash. In the Fifth Ward, Councilwoman Jennifer Maier is running for re-election on the organization line against Robert Huntley. Finally, in the Sixth Ward, Councilman Samson Steinman seeks re-election on the Regular Democratic Organization line; his challenger is Justin Fuson.

The Republican slate is Lawrence Bodine in the First Ward, Joseph Mikajlo in the Second Ward, Jeffrey Spatola in the Third Ward, Betty Ortiz in the Fourth Ward, James Barwick in the Fifth Ward and John Koenig in the Sixth Ward. None of the GOP candidates faces a primary challenge.

In Clark, Mayor Sal Bonaccorso is seeking re-election on a Republican slate which includes council members-at-large Alvin Barr and Angel Albanese, and newcomer William “Bill” Smith. Third Ward Councilman Richard Kazanowski leads a Democratic slate that includes council-at-large candidates Michael Altman, Michelle Novak and Philip Laskowski. Neither side faces a primary challenge.

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