Bloomfield elects first new mayor in 12 years, East Orange mayoral candidate formally seals win

By Eunice Lee/The Star-Ledger
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on November 05, 2013

ESSEX COUNTY — A heated mayoral race in Bloomfield ended tonight with a Democratic at-large councilman beating his Republican challenger. Michael Venezia won a three-year term and will be the township’s first new mayor in 12 years.

The fierce mayoral battle drew big-name support. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) backed 31-year-old Venezia. Russell Mollica, 53, gained support from a local appearance last week with Gov. Chris Christie.

Bloomfield’s election was a focal point among more than 30 municipal and school board races across Essex County. Roughly one-third of the local races were uncontested.

Freeholder at-large Gerald Owens, a Democrat and longtime labor leader, easily won re-election against Republican challenger David Pinckney for a one-year unexpired term, according to unofficial results from the Essex County Clerk's Office. The freeholder race was the only countywide race.

Meanwhile in East Orange, Democrat Lester Taylor officially became mayor-elect tonight. He clinched victory in the June primary race which, in the heavily Democratic city, essentially seals victory. He had no Republican opponent.

Taylor, 39, said his priorities upon taking office include "restoring integrity to the office of the mayor," creating jobs, improving education and recreation and lowering taxes. Former state Assemblywoman Stephanie Bush-Baskette is heading Taylor’s transition team.

The party machine’s handpicked candidate, Taylor beat four-term incumbent Robert Bowser, 77, in a bruising primary race where the longtime mayor’s campaign apparently unraveled with detailed revelations of a sex scandal with his ex-assistant which cost the township in a lawsuit and legal fees.

Kevin Taylor, who lost to Lester Taylor in the June primary, staged an unsuccessful write-in campaign today despite ardent supporters like Charlee Chase.

“Kevin is grass roots. He knows what East Orange was, and he knows what we’d expect him to do,” Chase, 77, said.

“It’s rough because a lot of people don’t know about a write-in (candidate),” she added.

In Newark, John Sharpe James was elected to a vacant at-large city council seat, beating Yvonne Garrett-Moore and Lynda Lloyd.

Back in Bloomfield, the Democrats made a clean sweep with council candidates Joseph Lopez, Wartyna "Nina" Davis and Carlos Pomares claiming all three at-large seats.

“We needed a change of leadership,” said Venezia, who works as a confidential aide in the Essex County administrator’s office. “We’ve had 12 years of failed leadership.”

Longtime Mayor Raymond McCarthy announced in June that he would not seek a fifth term. McCarthy, who was among the Essex County Democrats who endorsed Christie for reelection, strongly opposed Venezia’s candidacy.

Venezia said he plans to stabilize property taxes by cutting department budgets by five percent.

Ricardo Llanos, 43, of Bloomfield, said he voted for Venezia and supported Democrats across the board.

On the ballot question whether to amend the minimum wage in the state Constitution from $7.25 to $8.25, Llanos, a high school Spanish and literature teacher in Paterson, said he voted yes.

“Everyone has the right to progress,” he said.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment