NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–For the third straight election cycle, Hub City voters will not have a choice when it comes to who represents them in City Hall.
That news comes the day of the primary election, which is also the deadline for Independent candidates for local office to file petitions to run.
The last time the political machine faced a challenge in the city government elections was six years ago, when Patricia Bombelyn ran for Mayor along with two candidates for City Council in 2010.
But, since then, no one has challenged the powers that be in a local election, save for a handful of unsuccessful school board campaigns.
This year, with three seats open on the City Council, incumbent Democrats Glenn Fleming and John Anderson have added a new member to their team, Planning Board Chairwoman Suzanne Sicora Ludwig.
No Republicans filed to get on the ballot, and the deadline to file Independent petitions passed without any other challengers, effectively giving the candidates a free pass for four-year terms on the five-member City Council.
However, Hub City voters will have choices in other elections, including those at the county level, and a major choice about who will assume the nation's highest office: US President.
Citizens of Middlesex County who show up to exercise their franchise on November 8 will be presented with two choices for who should represent them in the US Congress.
Democrat Frank Pallone, Jr. is seeking re-election to another term in Congress where he has represented New Brunswick and much of the county for more than two decades. He will face a challenge from Brent Sonnek-Schmeltz of Atlantic Highlands in the November election.
The other Congressional election in Middlesex County takes place outside New Brunwick and pits first-term Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman against Steven J. Uccio.
Six candidates, including three Democrat incumbents, are also competing for three open seats on the county's Board of Chosen Freeholders, a seven-member board that runs the county government.
MIDDLESEX COUNTY FREEHOLDER – THREE SEATS
- Blanquita Valenti (Democrat)
- Kenneth Armwood (Democrat)
- Charles Kenny (Democrat)
- Joseph "Joe" Scillieri (Republican)
- Kathleen "Katie" Callabrese (Republican)
- Zhiyu "Jimmy" Hu (Republican)
Democrats have dominated county politics and controlled the entire Freeholder board for nearly two decades. They have also controlled the other elected county offices for even longer.
Meanwhile, incumbent Democrat Sheriff Millie Scott, the highest vote-getter countywide in the primary election, will face a Republican opponent in the November election:
MIDDLESEX COUNTY SHERIFF
- Mildred Scott (Democrat)
- "Peter" Pedro Pisar (Republican)
Pisar defeated a challenger in the June 7 primary, and will be running as a team with the three Republican Freeholder candidates. They will have an uphill battle, as there are three times as many registered Democrats in the county as Republicans.
Additionally, voters in seventeen of the county's 25 municipalities will also have choices to make about who should serve as Mayor or on their local Councils/Committees in the November election:
- Brian C. Wahler (Democrat)
- Damon Montesano (Republican)
EAST BRUNSWICK MAYOR
- Brad J. Cohen (Democrat)
- James "Jim" Wendell (Republican)
EAST BRUNSWICK COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Michael Spadafino (Democrat)
- Sterley Stanely (Democrat)
- Jane Mueller (Republican)
- Mark Csizmar (Republican)
MONROE TOWNSHIP COUNCIL (WARD 2 – UNEXPIRED TERM)
- Blaise DiPierro (Democrat)
- Martin Herrmann (Republican)
- Peter Tufano (Indpendent)
SOUTH BRUNSWICK COUNCIL – THREE SEATS
- Joseph "Joe" Camarota (Democrat)
- Charlie Carley (Democrat)
- Jo Hochman (Democrat)
- Michael E. Kushwarra (Republican)
- Brian Wojaczyk (Republican)
SAYREVILLE BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Daniel Buchanan (Democrat)
- Ricci Melendez (Democrat)
- Arthur J. Rittenhouse, Jr. (Republican)
- Christian Hibinski (Republican)
NORTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Ralph Andrews (Democrat)
- Amanda Guadagnino (Democrat)
- George Callan (Republican)
- Thomas V. Lichwa (Republican)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- John Dean (Democrat)
- Gary Vesce (Democrat)
- Stephanie Bartfalvi (Republican)
- Raymond Rusnak (Republican)
METUCHEN BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Dorothy Rasmussen (Democrat)
- Linda Koskoski (Democrat)
- Daniel Lebar (Republican)
- Joseph Furmato III (Republican)
HIGHLAND PARK BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Phil George (Democrat)
- Jon Erickson (Democrat)
- Herbert Gross (Republican)
MIDDLESEX BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Daniel Parenti (Democrat)
- John Segarra (Democrat)
- Nancy Purcell-Holmes (Republican)
- Stephen Greco (Republican)
SOUTH RIVER BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- John "Jack" Alai, Jr. (Democrat)
- Julie R. Meira (Democrat)
- Jim Hutchison (Republican)
- Mike Trenga (Republican)
MILLTOWN BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Felipe Zambrana, Jr. (Democrat)
- Margaret O'Donnell (Democrat)
- Doriann Kerber (Republican)
- Richard J. Revolinsky (Republican)
JAMESBURG BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Samantha Rampacek (Democrat)
- Shannon Spillane (Republican)
- Gregory Newton (Republican)
CRANBURY TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE – TWO SEATS
- Glenn R. Johnson (Democrat)
- Dan Mulligan (Republican)
- Fran McGovern (Republican)
SOUTH AMBOY CITY COUNCIL (WARD 1)
- Brian H. McLoughlin (Democrat)
- Barbara Pasernack (South Amboy Independents)
SOUTH AMBOY CITY COUCIL (WARD 3)
- Zusette Dato (Democrat)
- Beverly A. Samuelson (South Amboy Independents)
However, a number of local elections will likely come and go without voters having a real choice on the ballot, including the Council races in New Brunswick and Piscataway:
NEW BRUNSWICK CITY COUNCIL – THREE SEATS
- Glenn Fleming (Democrat)
- John A. Anderson (Democrat)
- Suzanne M. Sicora Ludwig (Democrat)
PISCATAWAY TOWNSHIP COUNCIL – THREE SEATS
- Gabrielle Cahill (Democrat)
- Kapil Shah (Democrat)
- Chanelle Scott-McCullum (Democrat)
CARTERET BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Harjinder S. Bahia (Republican)
- Marcelino Hervias (Republican)
PLAINSBORO TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE – TWO SEATS
- Edmund Yates (Democrat)
- David Bander (Democrat)
SOUTH AMBOY CITY COUNCIL (WARD 2)
- Thomas Reilly (Democrat)
DUNNELLEN BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Joseph Petracca (Republican)
- Jason Cilento (Republican)
HELMETTA BOROUGH COUNCIL – TWO SEATS
- Ronald Dzingleski (Aligning Helmetta's Future)
- Joseph Reid (Aligning Helmetta's Future)
HELMETTA BOROUGH COUNCIL – ONE SEAT (UNEXPIRED TERM)
- Noreen Carolan (Aligning Helmetta's Future)
Still, there are a few races where the matchups are yet to be detemined.
In every school district except New Brunswick, school board elections will be held in November. Candidates have until July 25 to submit petitions. (The Hub City already had its school election in April)
Meanwhile, Perth Amboy and Spotswood are the only municipalities in the county that hold non-partisan elections for its local government.
That means candidates, including those running for the two Council seats each that are opening up in each of the two very different communities, or the powerful Mayor jobs, have until September 6 to file their petitions.
Unlike New Brunswick, Perth Amboy is expected to have a hotly-contested election with multiple slates of candidates already announcing their campaigns.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.