PARSIPPANY – Jamie Barberio’s mayoral campaign seemed a bit slow in getting started, especially when you consider his primary opponents have been making the rounds for weeks, popping up on social media platforms pledging to fix decaying roads and clean-up parks.
But on Tuesday night, Barberio began getting things in gear, presiding over a $900 per-person fundraiser at Nero’s Grille in Livingston. The gathering, which featured prime rib, included past – and perhaps future – professionals who served the township under Barberio during his initial eight years as mayor.
Democrat Michael Soriano, who beat Barberio in 2017, is the ultimate target, but before that happens, we have the June 8 Republican primary.
That’s where Barberio and council candidates Frank Neglia and Deborah Orme are facing off against mayoral candidate Lou Valori and his team of council candidates Justin Musella and Gary Martin.
Intra-party flights tend to get nasty and this one might as well.
But like Valori did a week or so ago, Barberio preached unity.
“Whoever wins (the primary), we’re going to get together,” he said.
And then, it was time to point fingers at Soriano.
“The current mayor that we have now has mismanaged Parsippany, and I can’t let that happen,” Barberio said.
Barberio said that the last year of his term, 2017, saw a $40 million jump in ratables, something he said that hadn’t happened since 2006. Moreover, Barberio contended that he left the incoming Soriano Administration with a surplus of $60 million that no longer exists.
He also took exception to what he said was Soriano’s tendency to blame him for some of the township’s problems. This is standard political fare whenever a member of one party replaces one from the other.
Barberio is not impressed.
“True leaders do what?” he asked. “They take responsibility.”
In just about the only possible reference to the primary, Barberio said he and his team have “extensive experience” in town dating back to the 1960s and that is precisely what residents want.
Since leaving office, Barberio has worked as a municipal administrator in Bergen and Hunterdon counties. He said he decided to run again for mayor because of the support he’s gotten from residents.
Few would call sprawling Parsippany cozy and intimate, but as he walks the town, Barberio said some residents tell him, “We haven’t had that family feeling since you were the mayor.”