What’s happening in seven key towns

ORANGE Candidates for mayor: At-Large Councilman Donald Page, North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason, West Orange Patrolman Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., Zoning


ORANGE
Candidates for mayor: At-Large Councilman Donald Page, North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason, West Orange Patrolman Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., Zoning Board Chair Janice Morrell, activist Betty Brown, Planning Board Chair Dwight Holmes.
Codey’s political enemies will crow if his candidate gets anything short ” />ORANGE – Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) has invested his time, name and $2,600 in Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., son of his former seat mate in the Assembly, who voted in his first Orange election just last year.
Codey’s political enemies will crow if his candidate gets anything short of a first place finish, but the former governor’s pick of a 28-year old with “it factor” potential could pay political dividends in the future.
If Hawkins loses on Tuesday in this town of 10,649 registered voters where former Mayor Mims Hackett used to win with 3,600 votes, the young patrolman’s options include going after a council seat or at the very least more seriously immersing himself in the Orange community, building to be a stronger contender for mayor in 2012.
Should Hawkins lose, his only shot at a council seat before the next mayor’s contest is against South Ward Councilman Ed Marable, Jr., who’s up for re-election 2010, and who’s backing Hawkins for mayor.
If he is to win this time, Hawkins needs to cut into At-Large Councilman Donald Page’s senior citizen base, turn out new voters and hope that longtime antagonists Page and North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason beat each other up sufficiently for him to pass both of them.
It will be tough for Hawkins.
Codey’s name ID and popularity among old school Democrats will help the young candidate counteract the strength Page has with seniors, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker reportedly has dispatched foot-soldiers and mechanics schooled in his citywide races to troll the wards for Hawkins and roust young and absentee voters.
Of these, Paterson politicos generally give Tavarez the best shot of defeating incumbent Councilman Juan Torres. A Tavarez w” />But Page possesses advantages as a 14-year grassroots activist councilman with high name ID, and popularity among seniors citywide. He is the only at-large council representaive in the race, which gives him a citywide constituency. Furthermore, he is running a full slate of council candidates; and in a city where there is a small but dedicated Haitian population, Page enjoys the presence on his ticket of Haitian-American Anthony Desormes, who has received the endorsement of local media.
Then there’s Eason, who’s backed by outgoing Mayor Mims Hackett. Despite his trouble with the law, Hackett still commands a loyal following in Orange. How deep that support is as he waits to enter his plea to corruption charges will be seen in how substantial the turnout is for Eason. But Hawkins could draw some of those Hackett voters, too. Before the mayor’s indictment, Hawkins prepared to run as an at-large candidate on Hackett’s slate.
On the last weekend before Election Day, the fund-raising frontrunners’ (Hawkins and Page) blitzed each other with negative mailers in a costly show of strength by both sides. If that repels voters, there may be potential for either Eason or Zoning Board Chair Janice Morrell to squeeze out a victory.
But the two of them are long shots, as are activist Betty Brown, who’s making a third run for mayor, and Planning Board chair Dwight Holmes, a latecomer to the race. Brown and Holmes both trail in fund-raising.

A Torres ally, Rooney has enthusiastically endorsed Sayegh, who worked by turns in the offices of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8), and state Sen. Jack Girgenti (D-Passaic).

A Puerto Rican native, Villanueva has lived in the community for 27 years and possesses a strong grassroots following, but Sayegh, a Lebanese-American, has good organizational ability, a very aggressive campaign style including high absentee voter registration, and political connections.

Even before getting in the race, Kafton faced tough challenges as he outlined his political rehabilitation.
His own party was splintered in the aftermath of his DUI arrest and he has tried to mend that in addition to reaching ot to members of the bipartisan Jackson Tea Party” />the 3rd Wilkin Santana in the 4th and Julio Tavarez in the 5th.
Of these, Paterson politicos generally give Tavarez the best shot of defeating incumbent Councilman Juan Torres. A Tavarez win means a bad Wednesday morning for Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, whose go-to-guy on the governing body has been the two-term councilman with the same last name, who hails from the same Puerto Rican town.
With Tavarez on the council, the Dominicans strengthen their political hand in the city and gain at least one more seat on the governing body. That positions At-Large Councilman Rigo Rodriguez for a mayoral run in 2010.
The question is whether the wounds of Torres-Tavarez (whoever wins) will further divide the Latino vote citywide between Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.
VINELAND – Police Lt. Robert Romano hopes he has effectively delivered his message of more transparent government and that on Tuesday he will upend two-ter” />If those two groups split apart, that makes Torres more vulnerable in a city where Latinos constitute 50% of the population. In the midst of what is likely to be an onslaught by Rodriguez and the Dominicans, and a vote-draining run by Ward Two Councilman Aslon Goow in the northwest (Mayor Torres’s home ward), a strong African-American candidate in a city where 33% of the population is black could make a very credible stand against Torres.
Some believe Ward Three Councilman William C. McKoy could emerge to take on Torres. But McKoy has to first get past Diaz on Tuesday. Then he most work a deal with At Large Councilman Jeffrey Jones, who is building support for his own mayoral run.
The conventional wisdom is that in the end, McKoy will yield to Jones.
Girone lacks organization and money – h” />
In the face of an organizationally strong Dominican in Rodriguez and an ambitious and connected African-American in Jones, Torres could face trouble in 2010.
In the meantime, the mayor has at least one visible backup plan in the 2nd Ward on Tuesday, where ally Elizabeth Rosado is challenging Councilman Goow. Most insiders believe Goow will get by Rosado, but if Rosado – a financially well-connected campaigner, upsets Goow, that would be a significant victory for the mayor, and provide him with a boost to offset Councilman Torres’s possible loss in the 5th Ward.

BELLEVILLE
Candidates in key races:
Ward 2 Councilman Steve Rovell, Ward 4 Councilman John Notari, and retired corrections officer Paul “P.J.” Mac Donald vs. Ward 2 challenger Mario Drozdz, Ward 3 challenger Elvin Pereira, and Ward 4 challenger Thomas Salzano.
BELLEVILLE – They’re proud, both those Belleville residents born and bred and those North Newarkers who made the exodus out of the city and ended up in this blue collar stronghold just north of the Newark border.
What was once a gimme district for Irish and Italians has turned into an Essex County hodgepodge with the largest growth among residents going to the Latino population, which climbed to 24% by 2005.
Characterizing this municipal election in part is that ages-old stand-off between longtime Belleville diehards and Newark nomads whose desire to make their homes here is sometimes met with the whispered encumbrance, “They’re not from here.”
Each side is trying in these municipal contests to depict the other as controlled by forces external to Belleville, in other words: overburdene” />Finally, in the 6th Ward, made up of a voting population that hovers around 50% Latino with equal parts Arab and Middle Eastern, School Board President and political insider Andre Sayegh faces social worker Illia Villanueva.

While making favorable public statements about Villanueva, the mayor has not sent out a robocall on her behalf, or made any other public show of reaching into the 6th. Villanueva twice challenged retiring Councilman Thomas C. Rooney, in 2004 losing to the long-serving veteran by just 68 votes.

The assemblyman/freeholder feels especially burned by Rice’s intervention given how the other team is playing the Newark card against Caputo and Pereira.
On Friday, Kimble’s candidates hit voters with a mailer showin” />

A Torres ally, Rooney has enthusiastically endorsed Sayegh, who worked by turns in the offices of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8), and state Sen. Jack Girgenti (D-Passaic).

A Puerto Rican native, Villanueva has lived in the community for 27 years and possesses a strong grassroots following, but Sayegh, a Lebanese-American, has good organizational ability, a very aggressive campaign style including high absentee voter registration, and political connections.

The assemblyman/freeholder feels especially burned by Rice’s intervention given how the other team is playing the Newark card against Caputo and Pereira.
On Friday, Kimble’s candidates hit voters with a mailer showing juxtaposed photos of Newark’s North Ward Center and Belleville Town Hall, captioned by the question: “Who do you want running Belleville?”
Kimble’s allies connect the dots from Pereira – who’s accepted at least $1,400 from Caputo toward his $4,665 campaign as of May 5 – to Caputo, to Caputo’s old pal from Newark’s North Ward, the powerful Steve Adubato, and worry about a strengthened role for Adubato in local politics.
“I’m never going to deny that Steve and I are connected,” says Caputo. “But did Steve make out a check to me or these candidates? No. The only guy outside community here is Rice. He has a right – it’s his district, but making Steve the bogey man from Newark – well, I suppose he’s going to be flattered.
“In any case, you don’t see a piece from us making Rice the bad guy,” Caputo adds.
Rice answers, “I hope the voters in Belleville understand what’s going on there with Caputo trying to exert control.”
Kimble and Rice win decisively if they sweep Caputo’s candidates out of there.
But if Caputo picks up one seat – particularly the empty one Pereira’s gunning for – Caputo can chalk that up as a victory.
With rising numbers of Latinos in Ward 3, the Assemblyman/freeholder can say he was out in front of shifting political tides and, at least within Belleville’s borders, unwilling to put old personal friendships in front of the hard demographics of the ward.
He can also set Belleville up for a takeover by a larger political machine, which is exactly what Kimble and Rice fear.
Another feature of this race is 81-year old Commissioner Carmen Orechio’s quest to become the longest-serving commissioner in town history. A former state Senate President, Orechio was first elected to serve on the commission in 1968. The dean was the low vote-getter last time, but he’s also a legend in Nutley.

” /> Councilwoman Emily Ingram, has run an unflinching campaign against Kafton.

Even before getting in the race, Kafton faced tough challenges as he outlined his political rehabilitation.
His own party was splintered in the aftermath of his DUI arrest and he has tried to mend that in addition to reaching ot to members of the bipartisan Jackson Tea Party (one of Kafton’s running mates, Mike Reina, is a Republican and a founding member of the tea party).
So far, Kafton’s had his troubles on the campaign trail. He’s outright stumbled on the fund-raising front, amassing $5,000 for his individual race, and $2,950 to split between himself, Reina and his other running mate, Bobbie Rivere.

Another feature of this race is 81-year old Commissioner Carmen Orechio’s quest to become the longest-serving commissioner in town history. A former state Senate President, Orechio was first elected to serve on the commission in 1968. The dean was the low vote-getter last time, but he’s also a legend in Nutley.

” />Meanwhile, Ingram and her allies, Charles Garafano and Todd Porter, have put together a more respectable $38,723 effort.

Given Seda’s record, Kafton should be able to capitalize.
If Kafton wins, he will be well-positioned to regain the mayor’s seat in two years and end the anguish of his political exile. If Ingram wins, she’ll not only hold onto her council chair, but own an advantageous seat at the negotiating table when her party determines who it will run for mayor.
Two councilmen abandoned re-election bids in a taxed out political climate, leaving Ingram to team with two newcomers. If she stares down Kafton and the GOP decides to dump Seda, the councilwoman could be in the mayoral mix.
Although the race is nonpartisan, Jackson voters know the parties and the affiliations. On paper, Jackson is split up the middle – 6,547 registered Democrats, 6,427 Republicans, and 14,776 independents – but Republicans have an upper-hand given the countywide dominance of the party and machine GOTV.
That’s likely to translate into high voter turnout: advantage Kafton and his team; low voter turnout: advantage Team Ingram.

Another feature of this race is 81-year old Commissioner Carmen Orechio’s quest to become the longest-serving commissioner in town history. A former state Senate President, Orechio was first elected to serve on the commission in 1968. The dean was the low vote-getter last time, but he’s also a legend in Nutley.

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VINELAND
Candidates for mayor…
Mayor Perry Barse;
Police Lieutenant Robert Romano;
retired school administrator Nick Girone

Another feature of this race is 81-year old Commissioner Carmen Orechio’s quest to become the longest-serving commissioner in town history. A former state Senate President, Orechio was first elected to serve on the commission in 1968. The dean was the low vote-getter last time, but he’s also a legend in Nutley.

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