It becomes even more chaotic when you throw in primary elections in June on top of the general elections that follow in November. It's a never-ending revolving door from election booth to swearing-in ceremonies.
On Tuesday once again, there will be a heated municipal Democratic primary for two seats on the Town Council, pitting the candidates supported by Mayor David Delle Donna against the candidates supported by political archrival Thomas Rizzi.
Incumbent 28-year-old councilwoman Jennifer Credidio, who is completing her first two-year term, is joined on Delle Donna's slate by candidate Frank Criscione, who was appointed to the Town Council just last month after Tom Barnes stepped down. Barnes had moved his place of residence from Guttenberg to Hoboken. Credidio and Criscione also have the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
Opposing them are candidates Luis Lopez and Mayra Villamarzo, supported by Rizzi's "Guttenberg Taxpayers and Rent Payers' Association."
Rizzi's ticket is running under the banner slogan, "Democrats for Guttenberg."
Credidio is an attorney specializing in municipal finance and redevelopment for a Newark law firm. She realizes the importance of the primary election, considering that she appears on the ballot with Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry.
"I think it's a very important election to get our message out," Credidio said. "We need to get our people out to not only support John Kerry, but our local elected officials like Congressman [Robert] Menendez, Sheriff [Joseph] Cassidy and Surrogate [Donald] DeLeo. They are always there to help Guttenberg, and their accomplishments speak for themselves."
Credidio said that she is pleased with what she's been able to accomplish since she gained office in 2002.
"I'm proud of the work we've done in the recreation department, which I oversee," Credidio said. "We've taken some unconventional approaches and been able to improve our programs with fundraisers that do not hurt the taxpayers. We're working on reviewing our zoning ordinances to insure to change overdevelopment with responsible development. We're making an endless effort to insure the quality of life, including closing the town's taverns earlier, which has cut the crime rate. I think we've made positive strides, and casting a vote for me and Frank is casting a vote for a team that puts people before politics and gets a job done. I'm looking forward to continuing to do the good work we've done in our administration."
Criscione, 61, is an actor who has appeared in such TV hits as "Law and Order," "The Cosby Show," and "NYPD Blue," soap operas like "Ryan's Hope" and "As the World Turns," and movies such as "King Kong." He also has a history of public service, having served a term as the Board of Education president, as well as working as the chairman of the Housing Authority and was once the police director. He is seeking municipal office for the first time.
"I think it's important for all Guttenberg residents to support the current administration," Criscione said. "I've always had a love for Guttenberg. My family is originally from Guttenberg and I feel very strongly about what's going on. I feel like I can make a difference if elected. I felt that this was the right time to pursue public office. It's an honor and privilege for me to be on the same ticket with Congressman Menendez." (There are several larger primaries going on, including one for congress.)
Criscione said that if he is elected, he will focus on arts and culture in the town.
"I really want to focus on the renaissance of Guttenberg," Criscione said. "Art, culture, bringing talented people together. That's what I want as part of my legacy. It's very important to me. I also want to be involved with the safety of the town. I've been very active in the community and the safety of everyone, especially the senior citizens, means a lot to me."
The 59-year-old Lopez, a former Hudson County committeeman, owns a trucking business, transporting merchandise. Lopez ran unsuccessfully for Town Council a year ago.
"I'm very concerned with the overconstruction in the town and the quality of life," Lopez said. "I've lived here for 20 years and I've seen so many changes in that time. The changes have made me worried. I'm very close with the neighborhood and I know that they're concerned as well. People want to know about quality-of-life issues, like parking and traffic. People are concerned about overconstruction. I'm willing to spend my time working with their concerns. I don't know if I can make a change, but I know I will be a voice for the people."
The 51-year-old Villamarzo, seeking public office for the first time, is a business manager for a small firm.
"I've lived in this town for six years and I know that quality of life is an issue," Villamarzo said. "I know that if I get in, I can have a positive impact and maybe help solve some of the problems in the town. But we need to address the problems. We can't just ignore them."
A native of the Dominican Republic, Villamarzo believes that having a Hispanic voice would be beneficial to the Town Council.
"We do have a large Hispanic community," Villamarzo said. "I think being Hispanic will help, but I think I will help all people. I have a positive attitude and I want to be a voice for the people. I will be there for the people. They have a right to know what's going on."
Rizzi, who chose not to seek office himself this time, said that Lopez and Villamarzo approached him about running for council and he decided to throw his support to them.
"We have to be able to put some competition out there," Rizzi said. "It's going to be difficult to get people to vote off the line, especially in this kind of primary, but we're giving it a shot."
Polls in Guttenberg, like in all of Hudson County, are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for the primary election.