PARSIPPANY, NJ - Some Republicans like to talk about the GOP as one, big family.
That's literally the case when you look at Parsippany's GOP primary
for council. Two of the Republicans seeking three council nominations
in the June 4 primary are brothers.
Paul Carifi Jr. is an incumbent; his brother James, two-years younger, is not.
"It's different, it's definitely different," said Paul Carifi after a
candidates' forum Thursday night at the headquarters of the Morris
County Republican Committee off Route 10.
Paul is running on a slate with fellow incumbents Mike dePierro and
Loretta Gragnani. James is running on a slate of one, but he disputes the notion he is
running "against" his brother. "I'm not running against my brother," he said, noting that three seats
are up. So, it's certainly possible for both members of the Carifi
family to secure nominations in the primary.
James, in fact, said he supports his brother and plans to vote for him.
Is his brother planning to return the favor?
"Ask him?" James said with a smile.
Paul said simply that he's running on a team. That team of Carifi, dePierro and Gragnani sat by side on one side of
the room during the forum. James Carifi was by himself on the other side of the room.
Family dissention or not, there was agreement among all four
candidates that this is a big year for Parsippany Republicans. The GOP
has a 3-2 advantage on the council, but all three Republican seats are
up, so Democrats need to win only one to take control.As moderator and
former councilman John Cesaro put it, Democrats need only a winning
percentage of 33 percent.
And recent trends have gone their way. Democratic Mayor Michael
Soriano and two council candidates were elected in 2017. And last
year, the party's congressional candidate, Mikie Sherrill, easily
There was also agreement on most issues. All four Republicans took
turns accusing Soriano of proposing budgets with huge increases and
with putting friends and cronies in high-paying jobs. The incumbent
council members said they were able to reduce the mayor's proposed
2019 budget significantly, but they said they worry what would happen
next year if Democrats control the council.
James Carifi took the most aggressive stance. Suggesting the
incumbents at times are too passive, he said, "I'm the guy who's going
to ask the questions" adding that he wants to get "in the mayor's
All candidates said they opposed Gov. Phil Murphy's plans to legalize
recreational marijuana and if that comes to pass, they would work to
keep pot dispensaries out of Parsippany.
Another simmering social issue is making Parsippany a "sanctuary
city," which, broadly speaking, prevents local cops from enforcing
federal immigration law.
Paul Carifi said that's a big deal. "If the Republicans do not win, Parsippany will be a sanctuary town,
you can take it to the bank," he warned.