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Sunday, November 4, 2007

9 Vie for three Freeholder Seats: Westfield Leader

Published in the Westfield Leader, Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nine candidates vie for three freeholder seats

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader

COUNTY — On Election Day, Union County voters will choose three freeholders out of a field of nine candidates, while three candidates vie for sheriff.

The candidates include Democratic incumbent Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski of Cranford, chairwoman of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; Dan Sullivan of Elizabeth, an administrator with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, and their running mate, Plainfield City Council President Rayland Van Blake. Republicans Patricia Quattrocchi of Garwood, a job recruiter making her fourth-consecutive run at freeholder; Westfield Department of Public Works employee John Russitano, Jr. of Westfield and Robert Reilly of Winfield Park, who ran for freeholder in 2003, will challenge them.

In addition to the Democratic and Republican lines, an Independent slate, dubbed “Clean Up Government,” will run against the freeholders this year. The Independents consist of current Freeholder Adrian Mapp of Plainfield, who serves as Roselle’s chief financial officer; Becky McHugh of Linden, a learning-disabilities teacher, and George O’Grady, a community-attendance liaison. Both Ms. McHugh and Mr. O’Grady are employed by the Elizabeth Board of Education. Voters elected Mr. Mapp on the Democratic ticket in 2004, but he fell out of favor with county party leaders this year and was bounced by the ticket in favor of Mr. Van Blake, a financial analyst and professional actor.

The sheriff’s race pits 30-year veteran Sheriff Ralph Froehlich against GOP challenger Peter Lijoi of Summit and Independent candidate Charles Mitchell, Sr. of Roselle, an Essex County sheriff’s officer and Baptist church minister in Asbury Park.

This year’s election campaign has focused on issues ranging from taxes and county spending, the Open Space, Recreation and Historic Trust Fund, county no-bid and/or professional-services contracts, county lawsuits, shared services with municipalities and county matching grants given to towns.

Democrats have held a 9-0 command of the freeholder board since 1998 and have won every election since 1995. Democrats hold a 85,522 to 36,705 advantage in registration countywide, with 259,892 unaffiliated and 62 Independent voters, according to the county’s Board of Elections website.

Online story here (PDF).

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