Friday night, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell introduced his slate of candidates for this year’s Town Council election.
The public announcement that Frank Trombetta, currently a member of the Secaucus school board, will be Elwell’s 2nd Ward Town Council candidate, was the biggest surprise of the evening.
The announcement was made during Elwell’s annual Mayor’s Ball, held at La Reggia Restaurant.
The mayor had already stated in an interview last week that new Councilwoman Dawn McAdam would be the 1st Ward candidate on his ticket. Councilman John Reilly will be Elwell’s 3rd Ward candidate.
The seven-member Town Council includes the mayor as well as two councilpeople from each of Secaucus’ three wards. This November, one councilperson from each ward is up for re-election, as is the mayor.
Incumbent 2nd Ward Town Councilman John Bueckner, an Independent who was once allied with the mayor but who has joined forces with Elwell foe Councilman Michael Gonnelli, is up for reelection this year and will be Trombetta’s biggest challenger.
Unlike other towns in Hudson County, Secaucus holds partisan primaries in June, followed by a general election in November. Registered Independents are excluded from the primaries, and only participate in the general election.
Trombetta has been on the Secaucus school board for more than two years. His term on the board ends next spring and he was scheduled to come up for re-election in April 2010.
Should he win a council seat in November, Trombetta would be sworn in on Jan. 1, 2010 and he said he would immediately resign from his spot on the school board.
Secaucus Public Defender Peter Weiner has announced that he will challenge the Elwell ticket in the June Democratic primary as mayor. Weiner, who is running for mayor, announced last m onth that health care executive Joe Morano will be his 1st Ward candidate, while former school board member Susan Pirro will be his candidate for the 3rd Ward.
Weiner does not have a 2nd Ward candidate, so Trombetta should easily win his Democratic primary race.
The Elwell ticket could be in store for a tough race in the fall, however, since Gonnelli is widely expected to run for mayor as an Independent with his own slate of candidates.
In an interview Friday night after the announcement, Elwell said he believes the economy will be the main campaign issue in this year’s election. Elwell added that Trombetta, who owns a small family-run business, “balances the ticket” since he understands the recession’s impact on the business community. –
E. Assata Wright