PERTH AMBOY, NJ—The "City by the Bay" is in the midst of an important local election, as is another town on the other end of the county: Spotswood.
The two communities are unique–at least in Middlesex County–because political parties are not directly involved in their local government elections.
But in Perth Amboy and Spotswood, no local primary elections are held, though primary elections are held for offices such as US Congress, Sheriff, Freeholder, State Senator, and State Assembly.
Until recently, both communies held their elections, separate and apart from the rest of the during May. But recent legislation allowed towns to do away with the separate elections, folding them into the November races, but placing them on a separate part of the ballot.
This year, those two towns make up half of the communities in the county that will be holding Mayor elections.
East Brunswick and Piscataway will also be holding elections for their towns' highest office, but those races pit Democrats against Republicans.
All four of those municipalities are also electing people to serve on their municipal Councils, as well as the local Boards of Education–which are inherently non-partisan.
The other 23 towns in the county use a partisan system to elect Mayors and Council members, a system that allows Democrats and Republicans to hold their own official primary elections in June to decide on candidates.
But in Perth Amboy and Spotswood, candidates have additional time to make their decision to run for office, as the race doesn't officially start until a petition deadline in early September.
Candidates in those communities also need commit to a political party, and instead can run with for office as a team under a non-partisan slogan.
In Perth Amboy, the Mayor and Council candidates occupy lines J through M on the ballot.
The Mayor race there pits incubment Mayor Wilda Diaz against Councilman Joel Pabon, Miguel Nunez, and Sharon Hubberman.
Diaz's ticket is running under the slogan "Stronger Together" along with Council candidates Fernando Irizarry and Jelmin Caba.
Pabon's ticket is running under the slogan "Real Leadership for Perth Amboy" along with Council candidates Ken Puccio and Angel Mota-Ramirez.
Hubberman is joined by one Council candidate, Enid Crespo, on the ticket marketed with the slogan "We're Ready."
Nunez is running under the slogan "Serving All People 2016," and is joined by Council candidates Virginia Lugo and Miram Quiles-Figeroa.
In Spotswood, the race has three candidates for Mayor each use the word leadership in their slogan.
The Mayor race pits the incumbent, Nicholas Poliseno, running under the "Continued Leadership Putting Our Residents First" slogan, against Borough Council member Edward T. Seely, running under the slogan "Experienced Leadership With Common Sense," and Jacqueline Palmer, with the slogan "Leadership You Can Trust."
Another three residents, with different slogans altogether, are running for two open seats on the Borough Council.
John F. Melillo claims to be "For All The People," while Jose Rivera promises "Fresh Ideas for Spotswood," and Steven Chasen is running on the slogan "Making a Difference."
Spotswood voters will also be asked a local question on their ballots, requesting taxpayer funding for a "full time career Spotswood Emergency Medical Services (EMS) department."
According to the question, the expense would cost $1,281,243 and would be funded by an increase in property taxes that would affect the average homeowner's annual tax bill by $275.04.
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.