Dear Editor:

I’m voting for Isabella Alfano for Morris County Surrogate because she has not only the strongest qualifications to manage the many administrative details the office requires to best function and serve as deputy clerk to our Superior Court’s probate responsibilities, but also, and more important, she possesses the perfect combination of communication skills, character, integrity, and social and emotional intelligence that the role demands.

The surrogate’s job is primarily financial and administrative in nature and nurturing in temperament. It requires assisting in activities ranging from helping our higher court to probate estates for which no formal will was drafted, to expediting adoptions and providing guidance/information to stakeholders on often emotional and sensitive incompetency matters for adults and children.

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Alfano’s opponents have tried to publicly demean her reputation by holding up the bulk of her private-sector professional experience as Senior Manager of Accounts Payable and Trusts and Estates for Sotheby’s Auction House, as an object of ridicule. But after two decades of managing budgets, paying debts, and making investment decisions to modernize dated company systems and procedures, for example, while performing immersive and collaborative work at an international, multibillion-dollar asset management/distribution broker such as Sotheby’s, Alfano is perfectly suited to attend to the myriad administrative details and decisions needed to best serve our Superior Court and by extension the taxpaying citizens it adjudicates for.

I’ve seen Alfano, a lifelong Republican with a history of volunteer service, leverage her can-do upbeat attitude when getting difficult jobs done, and the surrogate role is no different. When a child comes into money from accident proceeds or an inheritance, and it comes into the surrogate office, via its Minors’ Intermingled Trust Fund, to be protected and managed until he or she can legally claim it, it is Alfano, with her many years of accounting and finance acumen, who will invest the child’s money into FDIC-insured banks with the most robust services and highest interest rates to best serve her young client’s future interests.

Alfano is an administrator extraordinaire, and as such, she’s extremely capable of gathering all the info and documents residents will need to be successful in Court. She can organize it, analyze it, and ensure that all other required agency investigations have occurred, with all reports submitted by deadline to her office.

Alfano can easily fulfill the fingerprinting requirements needed for adoptions and, yes, contrary to the partisan scorn being heaped onto her non-attorney head by political insiders, Alfano is even smart enough to hire the independent, full-time attorneys that the surrogate appoints to generate a report if needed, or to attend a plenary hearing to support proceedings for an incapacitated person in Superior Court. (Alfano’s opponents, full-time attorneys Heather Darling and Michael Patrick Carroll, would actually be more beneficial to our county if they lent their legal experience to it in service of this more appropriate domain rather than noisily clamoring that they must have and control it all.)

Unlike Darling and Carroll, retiring surrogate John Pecoraro was no lawyer—he’s even gone on record describing past attorney results that had changed probate-law formulas from streamlined procedures into those that have now become “very, very complicated.” Yet Pecoraro managed to serve our Morris County community effectively, with integrity, leadership, and compassion for a quarter century!

Further, as newcomer to political office, Alfano will serve her constituents with an impartial and balanced mindset. She has no favors to return, no former political debts to pay or scores to settle. She’s not looking for an easy job to put in part-time hours toward till retirement and a fat pension can rescue her like opponent Assemblyman Carroll seems to want to do.

Carroll retired from his legislative position, having fled its demands and feeling “tired of beating his head against a wall.” Well, Carroll got one thing right vis a vis his comment to the NJ Globe last year: “It’s an administrative job,” he declared of the Morris County Surrogate role. And one he said he’d perform “without a spectacular difference” between the way he would run the office and the way his Republican colleagues would do the job. Carroll never appeared at the two township events I went to in which candidates had an opportunity to discuss the role with the public and their place in it. Do we really need these ho-hum attitudes expressed by a worn-out, has-been politician?

Isabella is a married mother of two. Freeholder Heather Darling asserted in candidate speeches to the public that she has no spouse, children, or parents to attend to. That’s a shame, because having these integral blood relationships in our lives, especially children, imbues us mothers with an acute sensitivity for the vulnerable fragility of life. Parents have a unique and profound visceral awareness of how deeply a loved one’s untimely death could impact them and their families.

I’m not sure Darling can truly comprehend the depths of empathy, selfless love, and that nurturing drive to do right by people for anyone other than herself. Alfano’s autistic son, Vinny, will need the very services the surrogate office provides to thrive on into adulthood. Who better to help other parents navigate the difficult waters of providing for incapacitated loved ones well after they’re gone? Who better than Alfano to comfort and fight for our grieving seniors when they’ve lost their lifetime partners and can barely get out of bed much less handle the many details of obtaining, organizing, and preparing the required docs our Superior Court needs to probate estates for which there is an insufficient or nonexistent will?

Not chilly lawyers and entrenched, opportunistic politicians looking to use the surrogate’s office simply as a stepping stone to higher officer or a cushy additional part-time revenue stream.

The best person to vote for to fill the surrogate role during our June 4 primary is Isabella Alfano, the thoughtful, accomplished, compassionate professional who listens to, engages with, and advocates for all!


Francesca Drago

Madison Republican Committee, Voting Rep for District 6