LAFAYETTE, NJ - Close to 200 guests attended a fundraiser dinner for Gary Chiusano at the Lafayette House yesterday evening.
Previously an assemblyman, Chiusano was appointed by Governor Chris Christie, with the Governor's appointment backed by the Senate, and Senate Judiciary Committee.
Yesterday afternoon, a convention of three county Republican Committees (Sussex, Warren, and Morris) took place to nominate and vote for Chiusano's successor, and Parker Space, the Sussex County Freeholder Director, won the vote
. Like Chiusano, Space will go through elections as well, to continue on in 2014, and the vacancy for Space needs to be filled on the freeholder board.
A number of area dignitaries participated at Chiusano's event. Stanhope Councilman George Graham acted as the event's master of ceremonies. Bud Luthman, a local Vietnam Veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart, and Bronze Cross, led the group in The Pledge of Allegiance. Carl Lazzaro, Fredon Township Mayor, performed the blessing. Ailish Hambel, Sussex County's Chairwoman of the Republican Committee, spoke complimentary words about Chiusano, and welcomed many of the local members of municipal government, in attendance.
"Congratulations Gary, I'm so proud of you," Hambel said.
Hambel noted how Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-21), Assembly Republican Leader, had attended yesterday's convention, and honored Chiusano while there.
"That [Bramnick's appearance] says something about the character of Gary Chiusano," Hambel told attendees at the dinner. "I'm so proud to support Gary."
Hambel announced the many local dignitaries at last night's event, including: Hal Wirths, New Jersey's Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development; Sussex County Freeholder Richard Vohden; Sussex County Freeholder Phil Crabb; Sussex County Freeholder Dennis Mudrick; Sussex County Freeholder Gail Phoebus; Sussex County Counsel Dennis McConnell; Tom Walsh, Andover Township Mayor; Michael Lensak, Andover Township Deputy Mayor; Byram Township Councilwoman Nisha Kash; Sam Castimore, Frankford Township Mayor; Frankford Township Councilman Gary Larson; Paul Crowley, Franklin Borough Mayor; Carl Lazzaro, Fredon Township Mayor; Hamburg Borough Mayor, Paul Marino; Wayne Yahm, Hamburg Borough Police Director; Hopatcong Councilwoman Marie Galate; Hopatcong Councilman Michael Francis; Lafayette Township Councilman John D'Angeli; Dan Flynn, Town of Newton Councilman; George Graham, Stanhope Borough Councilman; Stillwater Township Deputy Mayor, George Scott; Wantage Township Committeeman Bill Gaechter; Vernon Township Councilman Phil Rizzuto; and Ginnie Littell, former New Jersey State Republican Committee Chairman.
Others dignitaries in attendance were: Senator Steve Oroho (R-24), Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-24), Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24), and Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada.
"What a wonderful turnout," Oroho said of the event.
Oroho spoke of his days with Chiusano, traveling for work together in Trenton, and how he felt members of both parties in Trenton respected him.
"You werw a respectful opponent, you did your homework, and you represented yourself well," said Oroho, repeating sentiments he heard from those in the Democratic Party, who worked with Chiusano.
"Character is what you do when no one is watching," said Oroho, who told guests at the dinner, that Chiusano did not qualify for a pension, because of his departure from the freeholder board, just prior to becoming assemblyman. Oroho said Chiusano made the choice because it was the right thing to do for the taxpayers, and he could have taken a different direction, yet chose not to.
"If anyone hears anything about pension, it isn't true," Oroho said.
"I want to thank all of you for coming out, I want to thank my wife Carol," said Chiusano, when he took the podium.
He noted there were two members of the Democratic Party at the fundraiser, though he would not name them.
"I appreciate the fact that I have bi-partisan support," said Chiusano.
"This is an exciting appointment," said Chiusano, about his new role as Sussex County Surrogate.
He told the crowd he spent 11 years in the trust work industry, and described his team as "hitting the ground running."
Month-to-date, Chiusano said the Sussex County Surrogate's Office has handled 47 estates, with 27 of those in his less than two weeks of service. Adult adoptions, minor guardianships, and numerous offices visiits, have also taken place.
"They're [those needing the Surrogate's help] coming there because they've lost someone, and we're putting them at ease," said Chiusano. "Our first job is to calm the people down, and take the fear away, make it a little less scary."
Chiusano introduced his running mates for the election, including Oroho, Littell McHose (who he described as a "feisty fighter," with "the respect of the people down there [Trenton]."), Space (who he referred to as "Assemblyman Select," and said, "Parker's going to have a lot of fun down there. I'll help him as much as I can from here."), Strada (Chiusano asked, "What has Mike Strada done since he's been in office?" and then answered with, "Everything he said he was going to do."), and Vohden.
Some of the event sponsors included: the Platinum Sponsors of KG Companies, Kirt and Cindy Gewecke, John and Joan Simon, Roseline's Farm and Bakery, and Skylands Victory PAC; Gold Sponsors of Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo, SCMUA Commissioner Ron Petillo, and Ed and Cindy Leppert of EJ Leppert CPA; and Silver Sponsors including, Gail Phoebus, Vernon Township Mayor Victor Marotta, Kelly & Ward, LLC, Leonard and Janice Pasculli, Mike and Sandi Inganamort, and Andover Township Deputy Mayor Michael Lensak and Lisa Greebel.
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