Every year, when municipal candidates from the two major political parties are chosen during the Primary Election in June and eventually elected during the General Election in November in Roselle Park, they have already been chosen months before, not by voters, but by a committee of under 20 people to run as either a Democrat or a Republican. It has been noted that the election for these powerful positions – of the people who actually pick the candidates who are eventually elected by the voters – generally goes unnoticed. Both the primary and committee elections occur on the same day – the Primary Election; this year it is on June 3rd.
Historically, there has usually only been one candidate from each party to run as mayor or council member during the primary; and that is the case this year with only three (3) candidates from each party running for the three (3) available municipal positions – Mayor, Council-At-Large, and First Ward Councilman.
Also, historically, there has only been one candidate for those Committee Member seats when the County Committee seat election occurs every other year – alternating between Republican and Democratic committee seats.
That is, until now.
This year, the Republican County Committee will be holding their election for seats (Democratic Committee seats are elected on odd-numbered years) for Roselle Park and, for the first time as far back as people can remember, there will be at least one seat being contested by two candidates.
All candidates but one – Richard Huxford – are from Regular Organization Republican of Union County (R O R of UC). Mr. Huxford, who is the Borough Attorney and the former Chair of the Roselle Park County Committee, is running under the Roselle Park Republican Organization as a challenger to the County Republican Party Line.
There are five (5) wards in Roselle Park and each ward has two (2) districts. The Committee for either political party must have one (1) male and one (1) female member for each district.
11 members of the Republican County Committee for Roselle Park will be running again to retain their seats with John Stephen, Martha E. Cray, Jeffrey Ceterko, Helen Ceterko, Jaclyn Flatley, Albert K. Castanzo, Elizabeth King, Awilda Feliciano, Anthony R. Cordero, and Michelle L. Cordero running as newcomers.
In 2014, Mr. Huxford will be the only announced candidate contesting a Committee Seat against Mr. John Stephen, who is a member of the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB), but he is not the only person who can run for a committee seat. Although the deadline for filing a nominating petition has expired, any resident can write themselves in or write-in another person they choose to become a Committee Member. The only requirements are that the Committee Member must be at least 18-years-old, a resident of that election district, and be registered to vote as a Republican. After that, the candidate – either endorsed or running contested or written in – simply needs to get the most number of votes.
There is no deadline for write-in votes and people can be written in without notice on the day of the primary election.
In previous years, people have been elected to committee seats with as little as one (1) vote and during the last Republican Committee election in Roselle Park, the most number of votes for a Committee candidate was just 24.
In addition to choosing candidates to run for mayor and council, Political Party Committee Members are the people who vote for governing body vacancies – again, not voters – such as happened when Joseph Accardi’s position as Second Ward Councilman was vacated when he was elected Mayor in 2010. Marc Caswell, who later moved out of town while still in office, was chosen by the Roselle Park Republican Committee. His vacancy was itself filled by Scott Nicol who was chosen, again, by the Republican Committee. The same occurred in 2011 when the Democratic Committee in Roselle Park chose Eugene Meola to fill the unexpired term of Larry Dinardo who resigned as First Ward Councilman. Voters do have an opportunity to vote for those unexpired terms during an election, depending on how many years are left in that position’s term. Before that time, people chosen by political party committees will hold those offices.
Party committee members also have a say in who gets chosen for appointed positions in various municipal boards and committees, even though the final vote is left to the governing body. Party committee members can also recommend election day poll workers who get paid $200 for the day.