In Hudson County, political figures can always find something to fight about. If they weren’t fighting, we would wonder why not.
Although rumors are circulating about a new potential civil war among Democrats, the reason may not be the fate of West New York Mayor Sal Vega – who is up for re-election in May – so much as the impact of redistricting of the state legislative districts.
When the new district maps are finally unveiled on Sunday, April 3, all hell is expected to break loose.
(The redistricting that applies to the county freeholders, as opposed to the state legislative districts, so far won’t affect the upcoming election, as freeholder incumbents will run in existing districts and then face new district lines in three years when they run again.)
State Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco is expected to get shifted out of Jersey City and possibly be forced to face off against powerful Bergen County Sen. Paul Sarlo.
Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who serves as state senator in the 33rd District, will likely get a huge chunk of Jersey City, and will be forced to run with a Jersey City Assembly candidate in the June primary.
The problem is, Stack wants to pick who that candidate will be, and apparently Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy believe they have the right to pick the candidate.
Fulop’s no fool
The threat of a countywide war has Hudson County Democratic Organization people scrambling to develop a plan of action in case Stack decides to mount a full slate of candidates. Apparently, the HCDO even asked Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop to consider running against Stack for state senate in the Democratic primary.
Fulop, being no one’s fool, apparently told them no.
This was a brilliant gambit by the HCDO to put a wedge between Fulop and Stack, and keep two of the brightest stars in Hudson County politics from getting together. Fulop will need Stack’s support in 2013 to run for Jersey City mayor, and the HCDO knows it.
Sorry fellas. Nice try though.
The other option might be to have Sean Connors – a potential freeholder threat – to run against Stack instead.
Sweeney’s got a point
Senate Pres. Stephen Sweeney has been trying to get fellow Democrats to go along with a proposal by Republican Gov. Christopher Christie that would require public employees to kick in more toward the purchase of their health insurance.
But Democrats aren’t going for it, even though Sweeney served as a top official for an iron workers’ union. From the day he took office as president of the Senate, he has been critical of public workers’ unions and has sought to push Christie’s agenda better than a Republican Senate president might – and has since been seen as a traitor by some union leaders, who had been trying to find someone to run against him.
For local state legislators, Sweeney is a problem, since he can put someone in legislative Siberia for working against him.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” said one local assemblyman.
The public outcry over the supposed special treatment public employees get over workers in the private sector might not jeopardize safe Democratic seats in Hudson County, but there is another outcry among local officials such as mayors and council people who must some how make budgets work under a new stringent budget cap the state has imposed.
Each unfilled pothole, each street left unplowed, or each service forced to get cut because of pending pension and insurance payments for public employees puts more pressure on elected officials to find a solution.
While the cost of health care is a national issue – and the federal government is going to have to hold insurance companies and the medical professionals accountable for the high costs – the decision about who pays for providing coverage is a local issue. Taxpayers, many of them on fixed incomes, bear the brunt of the expense while government employees seem to be living in the lap of luxury.
Romney to the GOP’s rescue?
Former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney has decided to help New Jersey Republicans in their fight to take control of the state legislature later this year, throwing $25,000 into the local coffers.
This comes after Christie had Romney over for a bite to eat at the governor’s mansion last January, no doubt crying in his champagne cocktail about the state Republicans’ lack of control over both houses of the legislature, which are in Democratic hands.
With Sweeney at the top in the state Senate, however, Christie’s real problem is with the state Assembly, where Democrats tend to be less willing to sell their party out.
You have to wonder what Romney gets back for this generous donation. Perhaps Christie will help Romney run for president next year?
School elections already?
School elections are looming over several Hudson County towns for April 27. But the one with the most political weight will be the Hoboken race which will challenge the dominance of the Kids First slate.
Incumbent School Trustee Carmelo Garcia is leading a ticket that includes incumbent Frances Rhodes-Kearns and Peter Biancamano under a slate called “A hand up for our children.”
Incumbent Jean Marie Mitchell will lead the Kids First slate that includes two newcomers, Clifford Godfrey and Steven Feinstein.
Non-aligned John Madigan and Patricia Waiters are also seeking to win one of the three seats open.
In Secaucus, six candidates are seeking to fill three seats. This will include incumbents
Eleanore Reinl and Dora Marra, both very popular board members, leaving four non-officials hoping to fill the seat vacated by Trustee Michael Makarski, who decided not to seek another three-year term. Patricia Belenski, who originally filed, dropped out, leaving Joseph Lewis, Jules Carricarte, Lisa Snedeker, and Mark Gutmann.
In North Bergen, Incumbents Elaine Nicoliello, Kanaiyalal Patel, and Luis Diaz are opposed by Herbert Shaw and Cesar Vega.
Guttenberg candidates have no opponents for the three seats there, while in Jersey City, 10 candidates are running to fill three seats: Haril Patel, Jayson Burg, Vidya Gangadin, Amanda Kahn, Aurym Nunez, Nabil Youssef, Marvin Adames and Carol Harrison-Arnold. Incumbents Suzanne Mack and Frances Thompson are seeking reelection.