‘The Sopranos’ Star and Holocaust Survivor Headline Scotch Plains Republican Committee Kickoff Fundraiser

The Geri Smith Annual Republican Spring Conference was well-attended on Wednesday evening. Credits: Sean Conklin
Scotch Plains Republican Committee Chairman and candidate for Mayor Al Smith speaks at the Geri Smith Annual Republican Spring Conference. Credits: Sean Conklin
Scotch Plains Council candidate Ted Spera (left) and Mayor candidate Al Smith (right). Credits: Sean Conklin
Vincent Curatola, a star from the award-winning TV show ‘The Sopranos’ talks about American values. Credits: Sean Conklin
David Webb, a Sirius XM radio host comments on the preservation of the historic Shady Rest Country Club and current events in the American economy. Credits: Sean Conklin
Sami Steigmann, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor tells his life story. Credits: Sean Conklin

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – The Scotch Plains Republican Committee, led by chairman and mayoral candidate Al Smith, held its fourth annual Geri Smith Spring Conference at the Shady Rest Country Club on Wednesday evening. The evening featured special guest speakers Vincent Curatola, a star from the award-winning HBO series, "The Sopranos," and Holocaust survivor Sami Steigmann. Sirius XM radio talk show host and Fox News contributor David Webb was the event’s emcee before an estimated 100 people in attendance.

“Each year it gets better and better,” said Smith. “When my wife and I first talked about it we thought let’s not just make it a fundraiser, but something that the whole community can participate in and enjoy. That’s what we’ve done.”

Webb commented on a variety of subjects that ranged from the preservation of the historic Shady Rest Country Club to current events in the economy and the importance of "the American way."

Sign Up for E-News

“You can’t be tired to fix the issues, whether it’s (the Shady Rest) or the town and translate that nationally,” said Webb, a renowned political activist, challenging those in the audience to help make a difference. “Have fun, vote, but your real civic duty is to keep America’s vision alive.”

Steigmann, a 76-year old Holocaust survivor, who still feels the effects of the medical experiments that were performed on him by the Nazis at a labor camp in Mogilev Podolski, Ukraine during World War II, told his inspirational life story. His experiences moved the audience

“I would like to be remembered as a survivor, but not just a survivor of the Holocaust, but a survivor of many difficult challenges in life,” explained Steigmann before telling his life changing story.

Steigmann overcame challenges that spanned from his formative years to a becoming a homeless man at 57-years old and the ongoing pains that he continues to feel from the Holocaust. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to be and I chose to be happy.”

He closed his speech with some powerful words, “learn to never give up because tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning.”

Curatola, best known for his role as Johnny ‘Sack’ Sacrimoni of The Sopranos stressed the importance of maintaining American values during his address to the audience. He also commented on his co-starring in the fictional American crime drama about a New Jersey-based Italian American mafia.

“I’m not an Italian American, I’m an American,” Curatola proclaimed before he went into the story of how his father came to America as a 19-year-old from Italy and got drafted into the infantry in 1942.

“I love to feel that we are united in the fact that we are a relatively young country.”

Scotch Plains Council candidate Ted Spera spoke briefly about his campaign at the event.

“What I’d like to do is put some fiscal responsibility in this town and on the county as well to help keep some of the great residents in town,” said Spera, whose father Gabriel Spera, served as Mayor of Scotch Plains from 1985-88. “There will be some good changes coming down the road.”

The "Geri Smith Annual Republican Spring Conference" is named after the late Scotch Plains Republican Committeewoman who displayed great courage, fortitude, and inspiration in her 22-year battle with breast cancer.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world to have married her,” Smith said in his closing statements to those who attended. “Thank you all for coming tonight to honor her.”

Although he would not say how much was raised at this year’s dinner, Smith claimed that more money was raised at this year’s spring conference than ever before.

TAPintoSPF.net is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Summer Life Guard Job Opportunity in Union County

April 10, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Summer lifeguard positions are available at Union County’s public swimming pool, the Walter Ulrich Memorial Pool at Rahway River Park in Rahway.

“Union County’s Ulrich Pool provides our youth and adult summer job seekers with an opportunity to enjoy working outdoors in the fresh air all summer long while sharpening valuable life skills including leadership, ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill Is a Huge Blow to The Middle Class

April 8, 2018

Dear Editor:

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices. 

A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” ...

Helping Teenagers Deal with Prom Night Stress

April 18, 2018

Prom can be one of the most exciting times for your teenager but at the same time one of the most stressful. 

It can also be very stressful for parents as they prepare themselves to accept that their teenager is graduating and soon going away to school, while planning a weekend away after prom night. Going to the Shore for the weekend or somewhere overnight has become more of the ...

How to Report Potholes in Union County

April 21, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- With the winter weather finally winding down, potholes are a frequent issue for drivers.

To report a pothole or any other issue with a Union County road, use an online form available through the Union County Department of Public Works and Facilities Management at ucnj.org/pot-hole.

County roads are identified by their blue route signs, which include the letters ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, April 21, 10:00 AM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

"All About Owls" Nature Presentation with The ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, April 21, 11:00 AM

PetSmart, Millburn

Dog Adoption Event


Sat, April 21, 12:00 PM

Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA, Scotch Plains

Healthy Kids Day

Health & Wellness