UNION COUNTY, NJ – Candidates at the State, County, and local level are reaching out to registered voters in the Tuesday, June 4, Primary Election. The Democratic Party throughout Union County has fractured into several factions that will result in a ballot full of choices for voters when they walk into the voting booth. 

The primary will see contested Democratic elections for State, County and local offices across Union County. This includes primary challenges to all the Democratic Committee men and women in Fanwood.

There will be three separate lines of county-wide candidates.

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The Regular Democratic Organization (RDO) of Union County is led by State Senator Nick Scutari (LD-22), who won the county's Democratic Chairmanship in a contest against Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr last Febuary. The three incumbent Freeholder candidiates are running under the RDO slogan in Column A:

  • Bette Jane Kowalski, Cranford 
  • Sergio Granados, Elizabeth
  • Rebecca L. Williams, Plainfield

In Column B, the Freeholder candidates under the slogan People First Democrats will be former Fanwood Councilman Jack Molenaar, who is running with Anthony Esposito and Lorraine McNeil, both of Roselle.

  • Lorraine McNeil, Roselle - People First Democrats
  • Anthony Esposito, Roselle - People First Democrats
  • Jack Molenaar, Fanwood - People First Democrats

In Column C, Freeholder candidates will run under the Democrats United For Progress slogan, which is backed by Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, a rival of Scutari’s. The slate has put forth three candidates for Freeholder: 

  • Wilma G. Campbell, Plainfield - Democrats United For Progress
  • Alex Lospinoso, Linden - Democrats United For Progress
  • Sylvia Turnage, Roselle - Democrats United For Progress

For the General Assembly 22nd Legislative District seat, which represents Fanwood and Scotch Plains, incumbents James Kennedy of Rahway and Linda S. Carter of Plainfield, are part of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County in Column A.

Carlos Rivas and Mark Lighten of Linden are challenging the incumbents and are running in Column C under the Democrats United For Progress banner.

Locally, Fanwood will have the Mayor, three Council seats and 14 Democratic Committee seats on the ballot. Mayor Colleen Mahr is seeking relection along with Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell, Councilman Jeff Banks, and former Councilman Kevin Boris. 

Mayor Mahr, who is the elected vice chair of the Union County Regular Democratic Organization, found that her current committee members seeking reelection were denied the ability to run with her under the RDO slogan by Senator Scutari. Instead, Scutari submitted a different slate of committee members led by Freeholder Al Mirabella and his wife, Phyllis.

In response, the Mayor turned down the offer to run on Column A and instead will be found under Column B People First Democrats along with the three Council candidates.

Reached by phone, Mayor Mahr was clear in her resolve to run with “the men and women of the Fanwood Democratic Committee who have supported me, helped to shape the local Democartic party through outeach, events and finding qualified candidates."

"They are my on the ground support system," Mayor Mahr told TAPintoSPF. "While Senator Scutari, who does not know these men and women, can turn his back on good Democrats who have supported the local, County and State slate for years, I will not."

"They may be faceless, disposable Democrats to him, but to me, they are my friends, supporters, and engaged Fanwood residents. I owe my success to them," Mayor Mahr added. "I am proud to be a part of People First Democrats and encourage those who support me to proudly vote Column B."

Mayor Mahr pointed out that it’s the first contested primary in Fanwood in recent memory. If fact, the last time there was three separate County-wide Democratic lines was about two decades ago. 

"It has been a long time since the Democartic party of Union County has seen these many primary challengers to the incumbents," Mayor Mahr said. "The future direction of the party is on the ballot in this election."

There will be no Mayoral or Council seats up for re-election this year in Scotch Plains, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 6,864 to 3,921. In Fanwood, there are 2,211 Democrats and 1,251 Republicans.

To view the Union County Clerk's list of primary races on June 4, visit http://www.unioncountyvotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019-Primary-Election-Candidate-list-as-of-4-16-2019.pdf.

Also, the UC Board of Elections will be using the new voting booths in the Fanwood primary. A demonstration of the machines will be held at the Fanwood Library on Monday, May 6, 2019, from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m.  

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