Dean Gallo and Parsippany’s Hall of Heroes

Lou Valori

PARSIPPANY –  Ignoring if you will the governor’s race, the most critical campaign for Morris County Republicans is right here – in the county’s most populous town.

The landscape is changing. There is not only a Democratic mayor, (Michael Soriano) but recent data shows the Dems with a slight registration advantage.

And so when a team headed by mayoral candidate Lou Valori called Parsippany First gathered for a Thursday night fundraiser at a Turkish restaurant, the focus was on returning township government to the Republican fold. About 75 people attended.

“We’ve been working hard at this for some time,” said council candidate Justin Musella, explaining that the team already is trying to serve residents by organizing such things as town-wide clean-ups despite not yet being in office. He said those who had “high hopes” for the Soriano administration have seen them shattered in the face of higher taxes and “empty promises.”

Gary Martin, the ticket’s other council candidate, ticked off some of his past heroes – Douglas MacArthur, JFK, Frank Sinatra. But now, he said, his only heroes are the people he wants to represent.

Martin said he is a former Democrat, which explains the JFK reference, and that it was the late Dean Gallo who convinced him to become a Republican.

The historical touch was nice. Gallo was a well-respected official who rose through the ranks of local politics, ending his career as a congressman. He died in 1994.

It was left to Valori to bring the reality of the moment into the conversation.

Before anyone can talk about Soriano, there is a primary on tap.

Republican Jamie Barberio, the former mayor, is running to reclaim the seat with two council candidates of his own.

Valori took the high road.

“We’re not fighting with other Republicans,” he said.

Perhaps not, but his team is running against them and acrimony often arises as campaigns unfold.

Barberio, by the way, is so far taking a rather reclusive approach to his campaign, avoiding interview requests. He does have a Facebook page under the alliterative slogan – “Bring Back Barberio.”

Whatever happens in the June 8 primary, Valori said he will support the Republican ticket this fall.

As he put it, “This town really needs some major changes.”

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