Councilman Kane resignsThree names offered for replacement

Secaucus 1st Ward Councilman Richard Kane resigned last Monday, leaving the Town Council split 3-3 between allies and opponents of Mayor Dennis Elwell.
Kane said he accepted a job in Connecticut that will require him to commute, leaving him unable to fulfill his responsibilities as councilman.
This past Wednesday night, the town’s Democratic Committee met to choose three potential replacements, whom they will recommend to the council. The council can choose one of them at a future meeting.
The recommendations were Dawn McAdam, Robert Zych, and George Heflich. The committee also passed a resolution to strongly support McAdam for the appointment.
Speaking the day after the meeting, Mayor Elwell said the committee wanted to add a woman to the Town Council.

Kane disillusioned?

“It would be unfair to my family and its future to not accept this new opportunity,” Kane said in a statement last week. “It would also be unfair to the residents of the 1st Ward for me to remain in my council seat, because I would be unable to dedicate the same amount of time that I have to my constituents as their representative, time that they deserve and have come to expect.”
According to Elwell, Kane’s new job also conflicts with his position as councilman.
“For his new job, Mr. Kane will be dealing with municipal pensions,” Elwell said. “So he is prevented from being an elected official in a municipality.”
Kane, whose resignation was effective immediately, did not respond to several calls seeking comment last week.
A Democrat and an ally of the mayor, Kane has served on the council for more than three years. He would have been up for reelection in November.
Kane’s abrupt departure took some members of the governing body and political watchers by surprise, even though many people said Kane seemed disenchanted with the rancorous tone of recent Town Council meetings.
Lately there has been much debate in council meetings over whether Michael Gonnelli should be allowed to remain a councilman while still serving as a senior officer in the Volunteer Fire Department. The alleged conflict between Gonnelli’s two positions has been under investigation by the state for more than two years and last month the town filed suit in Hudson County Superior Court to get a judicial ruling on the matter.
Since December, Gonnelli’s supporters in the community have turned out in force at council meetings to take Elwell and his allies to task for their treatment of Gonnelli and for the way they are handling his conflict case.
At these meetings, Gonnelli’s supporters have occasionally heckled and interrupted Kane when he has tried to speak, and one resident publically berated Kane for being late to the Jan. 13 caucus session, at which the governing body discussed taking the Gonnelli matter to court. Kane was late because he was coaching a youth basketball game that went long and was insulted by the comment.
Two weeks ago, Tom Troyer, a frequent critic of the Elwell Administration, published a letter in local papers in which he called Kane “spineless.”
Last Tuesday, however, Elwell denied the suggestion that Kane couldn’t take the cut-and-thrust of Secaucus politics.
“No, that wasn’t it,” Elwell said. “He has been a councilman long enough to know what to expect. He certainly never indicated to me that he was unhappy representing the 1st Ward.”

Speculation on replacement

Since Kane was a Secaucus Democrat, the local party committee had the task of suggesting replacements.
The council has 30 days to choose one of the people recommended by the committee. If the council is deadlocked, and is unable to agree on a replacement, the matter reverts back to the Secaucus Democratic Committee, which then makes the final decision within 15 days.


Kane’s departure could have a major impact on Elwell and the Democratic ticket in an election year.

Elwell is chairman of the Secaucus Democratic Committee.

Departure jolts political landscape

Kane’s departure could have a major impact on Elwell and the Democratic ticket in an election year.
The Secaucus Democratic Committee will certainly try to get a replacement who can get up to speed quickly and be prepared to run for election in the June primary.
Kane’s resignation could open the door for Peter Weiner, a Democrat who will challenge Elwell for the mayor’s seat, and his 1st Ward candidate.
“I’ve put together a strong slate. It doesn’t matter if we have to run against Richard Kane or somebody else; I feel confident we can win that ward,” Weiner said.
Weiner is scheduled to announce his full slate on Sunday, Feb. 8.

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