There’s a movement afoot in Passaic County to change their form of government and elect a County Executive. It’s being pushed by Freeholder James Gallagher, after Clifton Councilman Frank Fusco initiated a movement by sponsoring a council resolution advocating it. Wayne, Totowa and Hawthorne have since added their support. Insiders don’t expect it to go anywhere. But if it did happen, who would be on the short list to become the first County Executive?
- Gerald Speziale: In Passaic, Sheriff’s are often the most popular politician. That was the case with Speziale’s predecessors, Edwin Englehardt and Frank Davenport, and it’s the case now. The retired New York City cop, who didn’t enter politics until 2001, would probably be the front runner for Passaic County Executive.
- Elease Evans: The Assemblywoman and outgoing Passaic County Freeholder seems to be popular among Democratic insiders and has a solid base among voters in Paterson, where she served as NAACP President before seeking public office.
- Gary Schaer: The brainy two-term Assemblyman and Passaic City Council President can raise money from his statewide contacts, and he has a natural political base in his hometown.
- Bill Pascrell III: The son of the popular six-term Congressman and former Paterson Mayor is the Passaic County Counsel and runs a successful lobbying firm. Insiders say he wants to run for office someday – maybe when his father retires from Congress. The Pascrell name means something in Passaic County, but BP.3 doesn’t have the qualities that have made his Dad so well liked.
- Jim Gallagher: After all, he's the guy who has been pushing it.
Republicans would have an uphill fight to win the County Executive post in a general election, but Assemblyman Scott Rumana, the Mayor of Wayne, would probably be their strongest candidate.