CLARK, NJ - Clark Democrat Dario R. Valdivia will challenge incumbent Republican Sal Bonaccorso for the mayor's seat in the November election, Clark Democratic Chairwoman Nancy Sheridan announced last week.

“I believe no one should run unopposed.  When people are in office for the length of time as the current administration they start to feel empowered and entitled," Valdivia said. "That’s why I also believe in term limits.  It’s time for a change, and this can be the year it happens.”

Until the announcement, Bonaccorso was running unopposed for a fifth term. 

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Valdivia joins at-large council candidates Jerry Fogle, Michele Miller and Patrick Murphy on the Democratic slate.

“Dario leads a team of very dedicated candidates, committed to the welfare of our town," Sheridan said.  "They will be excellent representatives for the people of Clark.”

Valdivia's name did not appear on the June primary ballot. According to Sheridan, Valdivia did not submit a nomination petition before the April deadline due to prior family and job commitments. Valdivia became his party's nominee after a successful write-in campaign by the town’s Democratic Committee, she said.

“Fortunately, I was able to resolve these commitments, but not before the petition deadline had passed for the November ballot,” Valdivia said. “I again expressed my interest and found I could represent the party as a write-in candidate.” 

“I’ve attended a number of council meetings, and I’ve seen too many residents being given a vague answer or being told that there is nothing that can be done when they raise a question or present a problem," Valdivia said. "I’m running because I’m tired of hearing this. I believe that everything has a solution.  You just have to be willing to work to find it.”

Valdivia said his campaign will focus on controlling the spread of development in town. 

"I pledge to deal with residents’ concerns, regardless of political affiliation," Valdivia said.  "I also want my neighbors to know that if elected, I pledge to serve my full four-year term with a full commitment to the office of mayor."

According to a statement released by Sheridan, Valdivia has been a resident of Clark for nine years and is active in the community, frequently speaking at Clark Council meetings, He has served as a coach for the Clark Soccer Club and as a choir member of St. Agnes Church in Clark.  He is also founding member of the instructional soccer program at St. Agnes School and a coach for CYO basketball and volleyball at St. Agnes, the statement said.

He is a Third Degree Knight with the Clark Knights of Columbus, and has volunteered his time for a number of charities, including the American Cancer Society, the Stroke Unit at JFK Medical Center and local animal shelters, the statement said.

Valdivia said that he decided to run for Mayor “as a way to give something back to the town."

"I think that my experience and community involvement will help me listen and respond to the concerns of my neighbors," Valdivia said. "I have a lot of experience speaking up on behalf of other people.  Now I would like to use my experience and skills to speak up on behalf of the residents of Clark.”

Valdivia currently works with the County of Union in the Department of Human Services, and has over 30 years of experience as a project manager and administrator with NJ Transit Rail in Kearny, Sheridan said.  According to the statement, he previously served as chairman of the Transportation Communications Union Local. 

According to the statement, Valdivia served in the US Army with the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Ft. Bragg North Carolina.  He holds a BS degree in Finance and Accounting from Rutgers University, and is a certified personal trainer, the statement said.