Secaucus Democrat runs against the establishment

Secaucus Public Defender Pete Weiner, who’s running in the Democratic primary against Mayor Dennis Elwell, plans to announce his slate of council candidates on Sunday.

Elwell has the support of the powerful Hudson County Democratic Organization, making Weiner, 61, the automatic underdog in the primary contest. Elwell’s forces, for their part, are more concentrated on defending the mayor against independent Councilman Michael Gonnelli, who may run in the general election. But Weiner is confident that his campaign has momentum.

“I have a very good base of people that I’ve been talking with and who have known me for many years. I’m not just Johnny on the spot. I’ve been involved here with 30 years in town,” he said, adding that he is also president of the community service organization UNICO.

Three members of the council are up for reelection along with the mayor. One of them, Elwell-aligned councilman Richard Kane, abruptly resigned this week, citing lack of time after accepting a job that will require him to commute to Connecticut.

Weiner did not want to reveal his slate until Sunday.

Weiner charged that the Elwell Administration has created a climate in which municipal workers were intimidated against speaking out. He called himself an advocate of open government and opponent of pay-to-play practices.

“One of the big problems is that government is not transparent in Secaucus. We’re going to get rid of pay to play. I’m going to do my best to pass legislation to overturn it,” he said.

Secaucus Democrat runs against the establishment