And so it Begins

For more than four years, a committee has been looking at consolidating the towns of Roxbury and Mount Arlington in western Morris County, and now the decision to do so may be heading to referendum this fall.

Three Morris County Republican Commissioners are off and running – almost six months before next June’s primary.

Deborah Smith, John Krickus and Stephen Shaw on Monday announced plans to seek reelection to new, three-year terms.
In a statement, they spoke of “four straight years of no increase in the county tax,” and of their leadership in road and bridge construction.

As is customary, the announcement was accompanied by endorsements from an impressive roster of mayors, fellow county officials and state legislators representing the county.

One name missing from that group was Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo. No surprise there. Mastrangelo has been out of the club, so to speak, for some time.

More broadly, Republican commissioners/freeholders have had little to worry about in Morris. No Democrat has been elected to the board in 50 years. And that happened only once.

Nonetheless, GOP invincibility shows signs of weakening a bit..

In the most recent election for commissioner, Republican Tayfun Selen defeated Democrat Jonathan Sackett by about 6,000 votes, a healthy margin, but not as overwhelming as, say, 20 years ago.

The Legislative election in District 25 was also a bit uncomfortably close.

Krickus, who knows the figures, said that commission candidates have been running from 6 to 8 percentage points better in Morris than state and national candidates have been.

There’s probably a good reason for that.

Commissioners like to say Morris is the best county in the state to live. That sounds overly grandiose, but it also rings true. The county is an affluent place with good schools, an excellent park system and good services. It has no pressing problems.

Lately, the commissioners have taken note of the larger world around them. As a board, they have been very visible in supporting Ukraine after the Russian invasion, and more recently, Israel after the Hamas terrorist attack.

Krickus said that at least some of the commissioners have attended nine vigils or prayer services in support of Israel following the Oct. 7 attack.

“I feel good about what we’ve done,” he said.

Morris Republicans have had a “county line” since 2021, but there are still nasty primaries.

Last year’s fight between Selen and Paul DeGroot for the one available commissioner nomination was one of them.

Whether one develops this coming June remains to be seen.

But the incumbents’ strategy seems clear: We’re running – catch us if you can.



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