NEWARK – Big changes in Essex County tonight, according to sources emerging from the backrooms of Democratic Party power.
Veteran incumbent freeholders Carol Clark of East Orange, Blonnie Watson of Newark and L. Bilal Beasley of Irvington?
They won’t be on the party line in June.
“This is about Leroy putting his imprint on the county,” said a party source, referring to new Party Chairman Leroy Jones and changes resulting in four new freeholder candidates.
Lebby C. Jones, veteran at-large councilwoman, is running out of Irvington in place of Beasley. Britnee Timberlake is running in place of Clark out of East Orange.
Clark ran for mayor last year and lost to Jones’s candidate, Lester Taylor.
Cynthia Toro of Bloomfield is running in District 5 for the seat currently occupied by Brendan Gill of Montclair.
The former state director for U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) now serving as U.S. Sen. Cory Booker‘s (D-NJ) campaign manager, Gill is bulking up, going from a district to an at-large seat with the support of the part organization.
Against the backdrop of an intensifying Newark mayor’s race, the Essex County Democratic Party will not dump veteran At-Large Freeholder Rufus Johnson off the line.
The freeholder is close ally of state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-28), a public critic of Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and fierce backer of the mayoral candidacy of South Ward councilman Ras Baraka.
Baraka is running for mayor of Newark against former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries, who today notched the formal garbage time endorsement of DiVincenzo ally Freeholder President Watson.
The source told PolitickerNJ that Johnson is safe.
At-Large Freeholder Watson is retiring.
At-Large Freeholder Patricia Sebold remains intact.
District 1 Freeholder Rolando Bobadilla of Newark stays.
Freeholder Leonard Luciano stays.
Freeholder At-Large Gerald Owens, who temporarily held the seat previously occupied by U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10), is gone, retired.
Owens will be replaced on the ticket by Wayne Richardson of Newark’s South Ward, president of Laborers Local 55.