The election isn’t until May, but Union City resident Frank Scarafile held a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 28, in front of the Union City Board of Education to formally announce his candidacy for mayor. Scarafile, who is chairperson of the local activist group Younity, will likely take on current Mayor Brian Stack.
“The election in May is the single most important election for the future of Union City,” said Scarafile. Mayor Stack will be seeking his second full term. Stack also serves as Assemblyman for the 33rd District in the state Assembly.
In addition to his own candidacy, Scarafile also announced that his organization would run a full slate of candidates for the city’s five-member Board of Commissioners, who will be formally introduced throughout the following months.
In the running
“The very reason for holding this press conference in front of the Board of Education is to alert the public to the scope and depth of the mayor’s powers,” said Scarafile. “[At least four] of the seven Board of Education members have city jobs, and two of the five city commissioners have Board of Education jobs. We are concerned that our representatives do not have independent decision-making powers.”
Scarafile said that his candidates will not hold dual paid offices. In the past, critics have complained about the fact that Stack is mayor and assemblyman, and that Commissioner Tilo Rivas also has a seat at the Hudson County Board of Freeholders.
“We’re not looking for dual office holding,” said Scarafile. “Union City needs an administrator, not a politician.”
Announcements for his running mates will occur at other key points in the year, he said, and they will highlight the main issues throughout the campaign, such as the lack of parking and city development.
“I have a great stake in Union City; growing up here had the most profound impact on my life, and I’d like to bring Union City back to what it once was, a great place to raise children,” said Scarafile.
Open about his DUI
In addition to the issues he will be bringing up, Scarafile also wanted to lay out for the record his past for the public, which included a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol), bankruptcy, and a divorce.
“I hit rock bottom, [but] I am living proof that one can come back from adversity and become successful,” said Scarafile. “I attribute my turnaround to my family, my faith and my upbringing in Union City, which made me resilient. I have worked hard to turn around my life, and made the most of my second chance.”
Is superintendent of schools in Little Ferry
Scarafile, who has been the schools superintendent of Little Ferry since 2003, began teaching in the Union City school system in 1982, became vice principal in Edison Elementary School from 1990 to 2000, and then was principal of Emerson High School from 2000 to 2003. He also served as a school basketball coach.
“I have been compelled to give back to Union City while working in the school system with our children,” said Scarafile.
A graduate of Emerson High School, Scarafile received his bachelor’s degree in history from Rutgers University, and his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Jersey City State College.
In Little Ferry, he oversees approximately 1,000 students in two K-8 schools.
Joining Scarafile and showing their support at his press conference on Dec. 28 were his wife of 10 years, Soraya, who is a 20-year veteran school teacher in the Union City school system, and his two youngest daughters, Chelsie, 8, and Hailee, 5.
“I’m very proud of him,” said Chelsie.
“I love my Daddy,” said Hailee.
Scarafile also brought out his friends and neighbors.
“I’ve known Frank since he was 6; we’ve been lifelong friends, and I think he would be a great mayor,” said Tom Regan.
Scarafile said, “We are going to work hard, will be running a clean campaign, and I challenge the mayor to debate the issues.”
Municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, May 9.