WAYNE, NJ – Long-time Wayne resident, James “Jim” Freeswick has filed a petition with the Wayne Township Clerk to run for one of the three At-Large Town Council Seats in the upcoming Democratic primary to be held on June 8.

Linda Nardone and Catherine Pariser filed petitions of nomination on April 1 seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party in the June 8 Democratic primary election for the office of Wayne Council-At-Large. At its March 16 meeting, the Wayne Democratic Club endorsed Nardone and Pariser, the only two persons who had sought the Club’s endorsement for the office of Wayne Council-At-Large.

RELATED STORY: Wayne Democratic Club Introduces Their Candidates for Mayor, Town Council

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Nardone and Pariser will run on the party line on the Democratic primary ballot, having been granted use of the slogan “Passaic County Democratic Organization, Inc.” by John Currie, the Chairman of the Passaic County Democratic Committee. Freeswick will run off the party line on the Democratic primary ballot using the slogan “Democrat”.

Unless someone runs a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination in the June 8 Democratic primary election, Freeswick, Nardone and Pariser will likely win the Democratic primary election and thereby become the candidates of the Democratic Party for the three at-large seats on the Wayne Municipal Council in the November 2 general election.

Before moving into the Summer Hill senior apartments in 2016, Freeswick had been a resident of the Pines Lake section of Wayne for some 55 years.

“I’ve been a resident of Wayne since 1960 when my parents moved here from Clifton when I was ten years old,” Freeswick told TAPinto. “I went through the Wayne public school system, and I’m a graduate of the Wayne Hills High School Class of 1968, which was the first graduating class for Wayne Hills.”

Freeswick’s political ambitions began at an early age when he became the first President of the Wayne Hills Student Council for the high school’s first two school years.

After graduating from Bucknell University in May 1972, having majored in history and political science, Freeswick ran the campaign in Wayne for the Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. 

After the McGovern campaign, Freeswick was a newspaper reporter for the Ridgewood Newspapers. He then went on to Hofstra University School of Law, where he graduated in 1976 with distinction, and was admitted to the bars of both New Jersey and New York in 1976 and 1977, respectively. During law school, he had been a summer law clerk in the Office of the Passaic County Prosecutor in Paterson.

Freeswick’s career as an attorney spanned decades starting with one-year stints as a law clerk to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division in Albany, and Senior Law Clerk to the Hon. Frederick B. Lacey, a federal district court judge in Newark, NJ.

He also has been an adjunct professor at several colleges in New Jersey, teaching business law and United States history. Locally, Freeswick served two one-year terms on the Wayne Township Historical Commission.

Freeswick was the candidate of the Democratic Party for Wayne Sixth Ward Council member in the 1999 and 2003 general elections, losing both times by narrow margins to the Republican candidates. He also ran as the candidate of the Democratic Party for Wayne Mayor in the 2005 general election and for Wayne Council-At-Large in the 2009 general election.

His most recent election race was for the nomination of the Democratic Party in the June 2019 Democratic primary election for the office of Wayne Fifth Ward Council member, a race he lost by only 27 votes to Fran Ritter, who went on to win the general election and is the current Fifth Ward Council member.

“I am a lifelong Democrat”, said Freeswick proudly. His membership in the Wayne Democratic Club for some 47 years is proof of that statement. Over the course of that time, he served in several executive roles in the Club, including as President.

Freeswick also serves as a member of the Passaic County Democratic Committee and, hence, the Wayne Township Democratic Municipal Committee, having been elected to that party office in the June 2002 Democratic primary election, and re-elected in six Democratic primary elections held thereafter, the most recent in June 2019.

When asked why he should be elected, Freeswick said “I’m running for Town Council because I believe I can make a positive contribution to my community.”

As a staple at the Wayne Town Council meetings, Freeswick is an eager participant in his municipal government. Current Sixth Ward Councilman Jon Ettman has praised him several times during past meetings, saying that he wishes more residents were as dedicated and involved as Jim Freeswick.

“I’ve been attending Wayne Town Council meetings regularly over the last four years,”, he said. “I’ve only missed three meetings since the first Council meeting in January 2017.”

The heart of his platform is about government transparency.

“I think it is important that the municipal government keep the public well-informed as to its activities”, he explained. “The public has a right to know what its government is doing and why it’s doing it.”

Freeswick shared the following with TAPinto:

Several years ago I successfully lobbied the Mayor and Council to begin publishing on the Township’s website in advance of Town Council meetings the proposed ordinances and proposed resolutions that are on the Council meeting agendas for consideration and votes.  

I thought it was important that the public be able to read the proposed ordinances and proposed resolutions in advance of the Council meetings at which a vote would be taken so that the public would be able to comment on them during the public portions of those Council meetings.

Similarly, over the past year or so I have been calling upon the Town Council to hold public hearings at Council meetings prior to Council votes on motions to approve resolutions authorizing Wayne Township to enter into settlement agreements allowing the construction of Mount Laurel affordable housing.  

Although the Wayne Municipal Council has passed five resolutions approving five settlement agreements for the construction of Mount Laurel affordable housing projects on the GAF, Rockledge, Preakness Shopping Center, Waynebridge Plaza and Avalon Bay properties, respectively, no public hearing was held prior to the adoption of those resolutions.

The settlement agreements that were approved by those resolutions required the Municipal Council to adopt ordinances amending Wayne’s zoning ordinance to permit the construction of the Mount Laurel affordable housing projects.

Although the Municipal Council held public hearings prior to voting to adopt those ordinances, those public hearings had no bearing on the outcome of the Council’s vote because the Council was obligated by the terms of the settlement agreements to adopt the ordinances.

Thus, it is clear that if the public is to have any meaningful say in whether Mount Laurel affordable housing settlement agreements that are proposed by Mayor Vergano should or should not be approved by the Municipal Council, public hearings should be held prior to the Municipal Council’s votes on the motions to approve the resolutions authorizing the Mayor to enter into the settlement agreements.

As Democrats, Freeswick, Nardone and Pariser have an uphill climb. The last Democrat to win an “At-Large” council seat in Wayne was Joan Waks, the wife of former Democratic Mayor David Waks, in 2001. She was defeated when she ran for reelection.