Sibling Rivalry Comes to Debate for Parsippany Council GOP Primary

Brothers Paul Carifi Jr., an incumbent, and James Carifi are both running for GOP nomination to challenge Democrats for three open seats on the Parsippany Town Council.

PARSIPPANY – Of the four Republicans seeking three council nominations in the June primary, two are brothers.

Paul Carifi Jr. is an incumbent; his brother James, two-years younger, is not.

“It’s different, it’s definitely different,” said Paul Carifi after a candidates’ forum Thursday night at the headquarters here of the Morris County Republican Committee.

Paul is running on a slate with fellow incumbents Mike dePierro and Loretta Gragnani.

James is running on a slate of one.

But don’t tell James he’s running “against” his brother.

“I’m not running against my brother,” he said, noting that three seats are up. Indeed. It’s certainly possible for both members of the Carifi family to secure nominations in the primary.

James, in fact, said he supports his brother and plans to vote for him.

Is his brother planning to return the favor?

“Ask him?” James said with a smile.

It’s a loaded question to be sure. It’s easy for James to say he plans to vote for Paul. After all, James has no running mates.

But Paul does. So when the question was posed to him, Paul said simply that he’s running on a team.

But he did say that his brother, James, would do a good job on the council and that he’d be much better than any of the three Democrats seeking council seats.

This is a critical year in Parsippany for Republicans.The GOP has a 3-2 advantage on the council, but all three Republican seats are up, so Dems need to win only one this fall to take control. The mayor,
Michael Soriano, is a Democrat.

Moderator John Cesaro, a former county freeholder and others, talked about the need for unity after June 4. That long has been a problem for Parsippany Republicans. Infighting over the years has resulted in more than one Democratic mayor. A difference the last time around in 2017 is that Democrats snagged two council seats as well.

The perennial problem of dissension in the ranks may not be vanishing as quickly as some would like.
James Carifi said of the forum, “the deck is stacked against me.” And he asked people in the audience not to say or post bad things about him even if they aren’t voting for him.

Sure looks like unity is going to be a challenge.

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