State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) said that she’s taking a wait and see approach on whether newly elected Bergen County Democratic Chairman Michael Kasparian’s selection of Joe Ariyan as the party’s general counsel – his first and so far only appointment – sets a unifying tone for the party.
“I am waiting to see what’s going to happen with all the other appointments. I’m waiting to see when he’s going to convene the meetings of elected officials and the executive board. And I’m waiting to see what kind of bylaws changes Mr. Ariyan is interested in leading us toward. Then I’ll make judgment,” she said.
Weinberg heads up a reform faction that has traditionally feuded with party leadership under indicted former Chairman Joe Ferriero, who let Kasparian, his preferred successor, inherit his post last month.
So far, Kasparian has struck a publicly conciliatory tone with Weinberg and her fellow District 37 legislators, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood). He told PolitickerNJ.com that he would not support a primary challenge against them – something that was almost a given before Ferriero’s legal troubles drastically changed party priorities.
Weinberg said that Kasparian has reached out to her, though the two have not met yet.
“He has reached out to me on a number of occasions, but we have not yet managed to sit down together through no fault of his or mine. Just scheduling conflicts,” she said.
Weinberg thinks the bylaws need a complete overhaul, including a partial ban on district leaders holding public jobs.
“In the past manyof these people have been county employees and have never been able to speak out because they’re afraid for their job,” she said.
Weinberg also said she’d like to see a requirement for county committee meetings, periodic audits and required executive committee approval for certain expenditures. She’d also lie to see a clause for removal of a sitting chairman — the lack of which frustrated party members trying to oust a recalcitrant Ferriero.
Ariyan said he planned to “thoroughly review” the bylaws, but was not sure that the party’s problems stemmed from them.
“I don’t believe the complaints that some have had in the past as far as administration stemmed from the bylaws necessarily,” said Ariyan.
Ariyan was more certain that the party didn’t need to create a clause for removal of the chairman.
“I don’t think we need to address it. We’re moving forward into the future, not worried about the past. The party has a great new chairman that will serve every member, whether county committee or state senator, with respect and inclusiveness,” said Ariyan, who unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest) in 2007. “Michael Kasparian is a new chairman, he’s a different chairman, and his conduct so far in reaching out to all members of the party, regardless of previous factions, speaks volumes.”