At least 9 Republicans file to run for Bergen freeholder

Midnight marks the deadline for potential freeholder, county executive and sheriff candidates to file letters of intent with the Bergen County Republican Organization.

With less than seven hours to go before the deadline, nine have filed to compete for the party nod for three freeholder seats, two for sheriff and just one for the county’s top post. 

“I personally have never seen this kind of number,” said Bergen County Republican chairman Bob Yudin.  “It’s very good – it’s encouraging. Its shows how vibrant the BCRO is now. It shows a rekindling of interest.  It’s an excellent number of people, many of them elected or former elected officials.”

Republicans, fresh from picking up two freeholder seats in November, can take control of the freeholder board if they win all three seats that are up this year.

Competing for a chance to run for freeholder are John Felice, a former River Edge councilman and son of former Assemblyman Nicholas Felice; John Mitchell, an independent consultant who has run unsuccessfully for council in Cliffside Park several times; Raymond Herr, a former Fairview councilman and a candidate for Bogota council last year; Jeff Bader, a councilman from Woodcliff Lake; Rosina Romano, the former mayor of South Hackenack; Frank Valenzuela, the mayor of Rochelle Park; John Criscione, a former Fort Lee councilman; Maura De Nicola, the mayor of Franklin Lakes; and Ken Tyburczy, the chairman of the Bergen County Young Republicans.

A tenth candidate, Montvale resident Arthur Lavis – who ran for freeholder in last year’s primary on gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan’s line – has also submitted a letter of intent.  But Yudin said that he has not yet filled out a statement naming Yudin as the campaign manager for the purposes of bracketing – a precondition to run in the convention. 

“As far as I’m concerned, my position is that he hasn’t completed his application,” said Yudin.

The sheriff candidates are Dominick Polifrone, a former undercover ATF agent who is ackensack High School’s director of youth services, and Emerson Police Chief Michael Saudino.

County Clerk Kathleen Donovan is the only candidate to file a letter of intent to run for county executive.

Democrats’ deadline for applications to run is Thursday.  Two of their incumbent freeholders – James Carroll and Elizabeth Calabrese — are seeking reelection, as is Sheriff Leo McGuire and County Executive Dennis McNerney.  The only open seat is that of Freeholder Tomas Padilla, who declined to seek reelection.

Several names have surfaced to compete for the chance to run for Padilla’s seat.  The frontrunner at the moment, according to several sources, appears to be former Freeholder Julie O’Brien, who narrowly lost her reelection bid in November.  Also potentially in the mix is Westwood Mayor John Birkner, financial analyst Cid Wilson, former Ridgefield Councilman Robert Kovic, and former Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes.

Democrats hoped to recruit Lyndhurst Mayor Richard DiLascio, whose status as a former Republican and south Bergen geographic base made him their answer to Donovan, who is also from south Bergen and whose appeal has cut across party lines in past elections.   But DiLascio told to count him out, citing obligations to carry out an infrastructure project in his town dubbed “Project Tomorrow.”

“Right now it’s really my obligation to see that carried out,” he said. 

At least 9 Republicans file to run for Bergen freeholder