5 Municipal Races to Watch in NJ-5

New Jersey's fifth congressional district generally leans Republican but Rep. Josh Gottheimer was able to buck that trend with his November 2016 win.
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Paramus. The only two Republicans currently serving on the Paramus council are Stephen Sullivan and Jeanne Weber. This year, both of their terms expire. However, Sullivan has opted not to run. Instead, Weber will be joined on the ticket by another Republican vying for the spot: Jill Rosenfeld. In that race, they are facing Democrats Christopher Clark and Ralph Amato. If the Democrats were to pull off a victory here, it would leave the large Bergen town with an all-Democrat council and a Democratic mayor.
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Westwood. Similar to the race in Paramus, two Republicans on the Westwood council will have their terms expire this year: Council President Robert Bicocchi and Councilwoman Beth Dell. However, unlike Paramus, this town currently has an all-Republican council but a Democratic mayor, John Birkner. Mayor Birkner is standing firmly with Democratic candidates Thomas Constantine and Jennifer Scardino as he aims to get more allies on the board.
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Oradell. Democrats in Oradell are represented on the local level by Mayor Diane Carmelo Didio and Tracy Schoenberg. While they both still have several years on their terms, Republicans Council President Eric Shuler and R. Garrie Murphy both have terms that end this year. As with other municipalities mentioned so far, Democrats will likely try to make inroads due to the high turnout presidential election years usually create at the polls. Richard Kuller and Robert Pizzuto are the Democrats running.
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River Edge. This small municipality was shaken last year when Republican Councilman Anthony Cappola resigned following revelations that he published a book called Outrageous that contained racial slurs and insensitive language to members of many groups. Last year Republican Edward Mignone unseated the incumbent mayor Democrat Sandy Moscaritolo. With two terms expiring in November, Mignone can be expected to support his fellow Republicans incumbent Mary Davis and AnnMarie Rudis over Democrats incumbent Ellen Busteed and challenger Dario Chinigo as they run for council.
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New Milford. The terms of council president Diego Robalino and Councilman Dominic Colucci end this year. While Colucci is seeking reelection, Republican Kelly Langschultz is the other Republican pursuing the council seat. Democrats Ari Weisbrot and Randi Duffie are seeing election. This is another town where Democrats are likely to focus more of their efforts this November.
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This year, because of the presidential race, local races will not hold as much clout as in non-presidential years. However, with the congressional race between Republican incumbent Scott Garrett and Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer heating up in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district and the impending presidential race, turnout is likely to be especially high this year in the district. With many voters from both parties who don’t usually make their way to the polls expected to cast ballots in November, the spike in turnout could impact small council races district-wide due to down ballot voting trends.

Because Garrett and Republicans are expected to have a clean sweep of the district towns in the more rural parts of the NJ-5 including towns in Sussex and Warren Counties, Democrats are likely to focus on Bergen in November. With the county’s recent trend toward blue, extra focus from county parties is likely from both sides as they attempt to keep power or shift it favorably. Bergen County currently has about 75 percent of the total voters in NJ-5.

While this list is not all-inclusive of the towns that will have competitive races in NJ-5 this year, what they have in common is a combination of Republican and Democratic power that could easily shift one way or another depending on turnout and other factors.

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