The Iron Maiden of Union County politics, the late Charlotte DeFilippo always fought hardest in her home town of Hillside, with mixed results over the course of the last decade where now a four-faction war has erupted as local Democratic Chairman Anthony Salters attempts to put down three other tickets and assert organization control.
As always, Hillside offers almost bullpen-sized rosters of players in the various camps, as everyone lines up behind someone to supplant sitting Mayor Angela Garretson. Deprived throughout her tenure of a sitting majority, Garretson has opted for an upward glide path to a free Union County Freeholder seat rather than endure another four years of local mayhem.
Once envisioned as the lockdown establishment candidate, Councilwoman Salonia Saxton now has outgoing East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor in her corner. At least he showed up to her kickoff. But she also has the backing of two incumbent council people, who Salters opponents say should have lined up with the party organization.
Councilman Sip Whitaker is giving up his seat on the governing body to run for mayor. He has the backing of Lionel Leach, a suspended CWA Local 1039 Prez.
Attorney Jorge Batista, who ran four years ago and lost to Garretson, has diehard Pablo Fonseca at his back, in addition to former Mayor Joe Menza.
Then there’s Salters and his ticket. Salters supports Local 68 Operating Engineers rep (and Board of Ed member) Dahlia Vertreese for Mayor.