Today’s news from PolitickerNJ.com

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Hawkins takes Orange
ORANGE – A few Orange city blocks separate the campaign headquarters of Donald Page and Eldridge Hawkins, but a wide gulf of emotion opened up after 9 p.m. when the results of the mayor’s race came down from City Hall and Hawkins won.

In a six-way race, Hawkins defeated Page by a margin of 30-27%, or 1,061 to 942 votes, to deal a heartbreaking loss to the forces of the long-serving councilman. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

Barse ousted in Vineland
VINELAND — Promising to bring integrity and accountability back to a City Hall he said was rife with corruption and incompetence, police Lt. Robert Romano overwhelmingly won voters’ confidence Tuesday to become Vineland’s next mayor.

Voters also called for sweeping change throughout city government, choosing Romano’s slate of five newcomers to take over City Council.

Incumbent Perry Barse, who four years ago was re-elected in a landslide, suffered a crushing defeat in the three-man race with just 32 percent of voters calling for a third term. Nick Girone, a former Board of Education president who ran without a slate of council running mates, came in third with about 17 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. (Tim Zatzariny Jr., The Daily Journal)

Dems take Delran
Democrats yesterday swept the mayor’s office and two council seats by wide margins in Delran, scoring a stunning victory in one of Burlington County’s GOP strongholds.

Ken Paris was elected mayor, winning 1,804 votes and beating Councilman Michael Chinnici by nearly 500. Paris’ running mates, Gary Catrambone and John Moran, were elected to the five-seat Township Council by similar margins.

“The fact that the whole slate won and the Democratic Party has been able to take control of Delran says a lot in a very Republican county,” Moran said. (Maya Rao, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Upset in Paterson
PATERSON — Voters in the 5th Ward ousted incumbent Juan Torres during Tuesday’s City Council elections while returning the other incumbents to office.

In his loss to political newcomer Julio Tavarez, Torres was the only incumbent to lose his seat. Unofficial results showed Tavarez winning with 648 votes to Torres’ 383. The other new face on the council is Andre Sayegh, who won in the 6th Ward, where Councilman Thomas Rooney Jr. is retiring.

Veterans returning to the council are Aslon Goow Sr. in the 2nd Ward, William McKoy in the 3rd Ward and the 4th Ward’s Vera Ames-Garnes, who beat back two young challengers to continue her 22 years on the council. First Ward Councilman Anthony Davis, the only candidate to run unopposed, had the easiest path back to his seat. (Alexander MacInnes, The Record)

A Ridgewood sweep
The three council challengers in Ridgewood swept into office today.

Newcomers Paul Aronsohn, Keith Killion and Anne Zusy beat incumbents Betty Wiest and Jacques Harlow today by relatively wide margins.

Killion, the town’s second-in-command police officer, was the top vote getter with 1,832 votes. Aronsohn, a former State Department official, Jim McGreevey spokesman and congressional candidate, was next with 1,692. Zusy, a former New York Times editor, garnered 1,464 votes.

Wiest got 1,1119 votes, while Jacques Harlow had 827. (Matt Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)

A green-hued win in Montclair
Jerry Fried, a biking advocate who as the “Unity Montclair” slate’s mayoral candidate drove a borrowed “MILES” electric automobile to underscore his “green” credentials, coasted to victory yesterday in a three-way race to lead the governing body.

Fried garnered slightly more than 40 percent of the vote, surpassing his nearest rival, Deputy Mayor Joyce Michaelson, by 5 percentage points.

The Fried victory extended to the other candidates on his slate, with three of his five running mates able to claim victory in a campaign touting “common-sense change” to ensure that tax-stressed Montclair remains affordable to artists, writers and older homeowners.

Michaelson, who led the “Partnership Montclair” slate that promised a “New Approach … New Solutions” took 34.9 percent of the vote in the mayoral race, according to unofficial results. (Philip Read, Star-Ledger)

Blame the caterpillars
JACKSON — Voters Tuesday rejected the slate of the lone incumbent, electing instead former Mayor Michael Kafton and his two running mates to the Township Council.

The highest number of votes in the nonpartisan election, 4,028, went to Michael “Mike” Reina, a former Planning Board chairman, according to unofficial results. Also on the winning slate, Roberta “Bobbie” Rivere received 3,945 votes and Kafton, the former township committeeman and mayor, 3,826.

Emily Ingram, the incumbent, walked away with the least votes, 1,947. Her running mates, Charles Garofano and Todd Porter, received 2,186 and 2,021 votes, respectively.

Residents opted for change because Mayor Mark A. Seda and the five-member council made “bad decisions” over the last two years, said Joseph Torchia of Oakwood Avenue. Torchia cited the mayor and council’s decision last year not to spray for gypsy moth caterpillars, to save 2 cents on the tax rate.

The infestation turned out to be the worst New Jersey has seen since 1990, and the leaf-eating pests stripped the trees in almost a third of the town. (Fraidy Reiss, Asbury Park Press)

Incumbents go two-for-three in Long Beach
LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Voters returned two incumbents but rejected a third in favor of the son of a former longtime mayor in the Board of Commissioners election Tuesday.

Elected to the three four-year terms on the board were Joseph H. Mancini, son of the late Mayor James J. Mancini, with 775 votes; incumbent Ralph H. Bayard, with 684; and DiAnne C. Gove, also an incumbent, with 645.

Robert A. Palmer received 315 votes, the least among the field of seven candidates, in an unsuccessful effort to win re-election. Robert R. Fleck received 380 votes; Sharon Stefanoni, 343; and Cornelius O’Regan, 338. (Nicholas Huba, Asbury Park Press)

A rookie rises in Manchester
MANCHESTER — Two incumbents and a newcomer prevailed Tuesday in the nonpartisan election, each gaining four-year terms on the five-member Township Council.

Kenneth H. Vanderziel, 85, and Frederick F. Trutkoff, 76, both incumbents, retained their seats, and Warren E. Reiter, 79, won his first political election. Vanderziel received 3,669 votes, Trutkoff garnered 3,795, and Reiter finished with 3,792, according to unofficial results provided by the Ocean County Clerk’s Office.

They were challenged by James Poss, Donald Bates and Robert Greger, who received 2,299, 2,305 and 2,262, respectively.

Trutkoff said he was “absolutely elated” with the convincing victory and promised that he would work to give the residents the best service possible in the years ahead. (Michael Amsel, Asbury Park Press)

Change the theme in Burlington County
Five newcomers were elected in nonpartisan municipal elections in four Burlington County municipalities on Tuesday.

Three incumbents were returned to office in Bass River and one in Mount Holly.

In Delran, Councilman Ken Paris took the mayor’s seat and his running mates, newcomers Gary Catrambone and John Moran, were elected to the council. In Medford Lakes, newcomer Gregory Lackey was elected to council. Two newcomers, Ryan E. Donnelly and Kimberly Kersey, were uncontested in Mount Holly.

Under the state’s nonpartisan form of government, candidates run under a slogan rather than as a Democrat or Republican. According to the state League of Municipalities, residents in 87 of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities opted for this form of government. (Carol Comegno, Courier-Post)

Ouster in Nutley
Residents in municipalities across Essex County cast ballots in nonpartisan elections yesterday to decide who would be heading to town, or city, hall.

In Nutley, Carmen Orechio, who has served for 40 years on the township’s Board of Commissioners, lost his 11th bid for re-election by 29 votes.

Joseph Scarpelli, outgoing Commissioner Peter Scarpelli‘s son, garnered 3,000 votes to Orechio’s 2,971.

Newcomer Alphonse “Al” Petracco, incumbents Joanne Cocchiola, Tom Evans and Mauro Tucci also won seats on the board, and as the person with the highest vote total Cocchiola will retain her mayoral seat.

After a tense 30 minutes in which Scarpelli and Orechio flip-flopped between fifth and sixth place, Scarpelli said he could finally relax. (Kasi Addison and Reginald Roberts, Star-Ledger)

Ventnor breaks the chains
VENTNOR – Three challengers swept the veteran city commissioners out of office Tuesday, easily winning seats that the incumbents had held for a combined 36 years.

Theresa Kelly led the field with 1,679 votes, 451 more than the leading incumbent. Kelly’s running mates, Stephen Weintrob and John Piatt, took 1,577 and 1,550 votes respectively, according to unofficial totals from the City Clerk’s Office.

Joe Schafer, an eight-year incumbent, got 1,228 votes, Sandy Vespertino took 1,159 in his run for a fourth term, and Tim Kreischer finished with 1,138. Kreischer has been a commissioner for 16 years and mayor for the last 12.

“I think Ventnor set itself free tonight,” Kelly said, as she walked into a cheering crowd of supporters at the Church of the Epiphany after the results were announced. (Martin DeAngelis, Press of Atlantic City)

Toffler wins in Teaneck
Teaneck — Challenger Barbara Toffler surged to victory in Tuesday’s bitterly contested council election, finishing first in a field of eight, while Councilwoman Monica Honis and newcomer Mohammed Hameeduddin

also captured four-year terms.

“We’re going to be okay,” Toffler said from home, where supporters gathered to celebrate. “I’m thrilled. I am delighted that truth won. Believe me, I will do everything to serve Teaneck, the town that I love and the town that I grew up in.”

The results were a split verdict, with the two major slates of three candidates each falling short of a sweep.

Toffler had run informally alongside Honis and Audra Jackson, who finished sixth. Hameeduddin was part of the “Team Teaneck” slate of candidates that included Councilman Elnatan Rudolph, who failed in his bid for a full term after two years on the council, and Robert Robinson. (Joseph Ax, The Record)

Pretty good night for Cape May Point incumbents
CAPE MAY POINT – Voters returned two incumbents to Borough Commission on Tuesday while electing the first woman to office in this tiny seaside town that dates to 1878.

Incumbent Carl Schupp won his third four-year term and Joe Nietubicz his second. Newcomer Anita van Heeswyk also became the first woman elected here. Two other women have served but both were appointed to fill vacancies.

The borough has an election every four years, and this one drew a 77 percent turnout. There are 223 registered voters and 172 cast ballots.

Deputy Mayor Schupp, 74, of Oxford Avenue, garnered the most votes with 128 and is in line for the mayor’s post when the commission reorganizes May 20. Mayor Malcolm Fraser has served for the past 16 years but chose not to run. (Richard Degener, Press of Atlantic City)

A close one in Cape May
CAPE MAY – Ed Mahaney won a close mayor’s race Tuesday, returning to the post for the first time since 1996, while Terri Swain crushed the competition to take the lone City Council seat up for election.

Mahaney took four of six voting districts while Swain won all six in her race. Both also won the absentee vote.

Mahaney tallied 530 votes to defeat Mayor Jerry Inderwies, who garnered 457 votes. These results include absentee ballots but not provisional ballots, but there are only two of them. Mahaney, 62, of Ohio Avenue, served on the governing body for eight years including a stint as mayor from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1996. He has never lost an election here and has always been the top vote-getter. He left council five years ago but said he is ready to return. (Richard Degener, Press of Atlantic City)

Questions rise on Andrews’ fundraising for Rutgers
Rep. Rob Andrews brought over $2 million in federal funds to a scholarship program at Rutgers School of Law in Camden while his wife served as the school’s dean of enrollment and helped select the recipients of the scholarships.

Andrews, seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, said yesterday the federal grants were fully disclosed and approved by a House ethics panel. But incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg‘s campaign said they raise conflict-of-interest questions.

“It seems Congressman Andrews owes New Jersey taxpayers an explanation about why he consistently directed taxpayer money to a program his wife controls, even when Rutgers didn’t ask him to,” Lautenberg campaign spokeswoman Julie Roginsky said. (Josh Margolin, Star-Ledger)

Is that all you got?
TRENTON — U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., released years worth of his tax returns Tuesday, but without sufficient detail to satisfy the campaign of challenger Rep. Rob Andrews, who nearly a month ago demanded that the senator release that information to the public.

Lautenberg’s campaign released the first four pages of each of his federal tax returns dating to 2000.

Campaign staff said complete versions are too large to fax and that reporters could view the complete documents in Lautenberg’s Newark campaign office. (Gregory J. Volpe, Gannett)

McGreevey’s money troubles coming to light
The second phase of the hotly contested McGreevey divorce trial is to begin this morning in Elizabeth after yesterday’s court proceedings were postponed because of illness.

Today the court is likely to hear former governor James E. McGreevey testify about his financial affairs. The 50-year-old disgraced politician is expected to swear he has no assets to give to his estranged wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, and that his bank account has been reduced to a couple of thousand dollars.

McGreevey has contended that he is able to live on $48,000 this year because of the largess of his life partner, millionaire investment adviser Mark O’Donnell. McGreevey and O’Donnell live together in a $1.3 million house in Plainfield.

Matos McGreevey wants alimony and support, plus a share in McGreevey’s pension and benefits. (Judith Lucas, Star-Ledger)

What does Cunningham really want?
What is annoying is the buzz going around Trenton that state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham, D-Jersey City, is considering a run for Mayor Jerramiah Healy‘s Grove Street seat.

Hey, hello! What has The Insider been telling you for months now? Oh wait, they can’t hear anyone in Trenton. Their constituents know already know this.

The “problem” is that no one can get a “yes” or “no” from Cunningham. Ask and there’s that Cheshire Cat grin. It’s not as if you can find a new campaign bank account – like in the case of Bayonne Police Director Mark “It’s not a secret anymore” Smith, who’s waiting for the right moment to make it public that he’s running for mayor in his city. Cunningham already has an account as senator.

While Cunningham is contemplating a run (her advisor Joe Cardwell must already have made up his mind for her to run), it hasn’t stopped her camp from considering scenarios on how to best win a mayoral contest. (Political Insider, Jersey Journal)

Puharic out as Monmouth GOP head
Adam Puharic
, who has presided over the Monmouth County Republican Party as its chairman during a sometimes-stormy two years, said Tuesday he will not seek another term at the organization meeting election in June.

Puharic said he is bowing out in order to concentrate on his job as an insurance broker. Puharic has worked for the Danskin Agency in Wall since last year. (Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press)

Clerical errors complicate things
Recently declared Democrat John Graf has plunged into his new party, but finds the political waters chilly in Somerset County.

After his bid to run for freeholder got a polite reception, but little support from the Democratic county committee, Graf became the finance chairman for the party’s endorsed candidates, Montgomery Mayor Cecilia Xie Birge and North Plainfield Councilman Douglas Singleterry.

But the former Republican activist still wanted to run for something, so Graf lowered his sights to what appeared to be an uncontested race for a seat on the party committee in Bedminster. Now, he unexpectedly has a battle on his hands without the backing of Democratic leaders.

Through a series of errors or omissions, Graf faces Frank X. Lutz for the party post in Bedminster’s 8th District in the June 3 primary. Lutz has several advantages, already having been named to the party committee and given the party line by township Democratic Chairwoman Marguerite Schaffer.

All that came as a surprise to Graf, who learned of the situation from a local newspaper. When he planned to run, Democratic leaders encouraged him. But neither they nor the township and county clerks gave him a heads-up when the situation changed, he said. (Joe Tyrrell, Star-Ledger)

Ag department spared
TRENTON — Gov. Jon S. Corzine formally backed off or eased some unpopular budget cuts Tuesday that would have hit state parks, the Department of Agriculture and small towns.

But, he also proposed a new round of spending reductions and insisted on using windfall tax collections expected this year to trim state debt, not fund programs.

The bottom line for the new proposed budget that would take effect July 1 is an additional $134 million spending reduction, on top of the $500 million overall cut Corzine proposed in May. Some proposed cuts have been discarded, but new ones have arisen.

In altering his plan, Corzine gave ground on some of the details and shrunk the proposal to $32.8 billion, but he held tight to principles he believes will reverse years of fiscal mismanagement and begin digging New Jersey out of its annual deficits. (Jonathan Tamari, Gannett)

Perception becomes reality
Stephen Antonelli‘s business has towed cars for Rockaway Township police since 1995.

In 2005, Antonelli was elected to the township council.

He remains one of four towing operators police call when they need to get a car off the road. And as a councilman, Antonelli, who says he’s an expert in his field, has given his colleagues advice whenever the municipal towing ordinance is updated, as is being done now.

Things had been going along very smoothly in this regard until criticism was raised at last week’s council meeting that Antonelli’s dual status as towing vendor and councilman was a conflict. The discussion prompted the council to table its scheduled adoption of a revised towing ordinance.

What does Mayor Lou Sceusci think of the flap? (Fred Snowflack, The Daily Record)

Hussa acquitted of parking foul
DOVER — Denville Mayor Ted Hussa was acquitted Tuesday of a citizen complaint accusing him of illegally parking in a handicapped space.

Following a 70-minute trial with testimony from Hussa and two other witnesses, Municipal Court Judge Philip Maenza cleared Hussa of the charge stemming from the Church of the Savior’s “senior social” on March 30.

Maenza, deciding the nonjury trial, ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove Hussa parked in a handicapped space. (Rob Jennings, The Daily Record)

Township official could be removed for bad texts
PEQUANNOCK — The Township Council will consider removing Steven Petrarca from township boards because of accusations that he sent sexually suggestive text message to three teenage girls.

The council announced it will hold a hearing later this month as it addressed the matter Tuesday night before a small group of residents who sought Petrarca’s resignation. The contingent included the family of a young girl allegedly assaulted last summer in her bedroom by a paroled sex offender.

But Township Attorney Robert Oostdyk told the residents that it’s not just a matter of the council deciding yes or no when it holds its hearing on May 27. He said Petrarca must first be given his say. (Andrea Alexander, The Record)

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey’s top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Today’s news from PolitickerNJ.com