Republicans in Morris Township are feeling upbeat again.
It has been awhile.
Long a dependable GOP bastion, Democrats broke through in 2007 and now control four of the five township committee seats.
In the face of soaring inflation, high gas prices and other national unpleasantries occurring on the Dems’ watch, Joseph Calvanelli, the local GOP chair, sees good things ahead.
He says there is growing excitement and interest among local Republicans, especially newcomers to the fold,
And now, thanks to a governing body resignation, the party has a greater opportunity this fall to make a statement.
Committeewoman Tara Olivo-Moore, one of the four Democrats on the committee, recently resigned. That seat will be filled this fall.
Also up in November is a seat held by the only Republican, Peter Mancuso, a long-serving community activist.
With two seats out of five up this year, Republicans can not regain control of the committee, but they can narrow the gap to 3-2.
Still, that may be a challenge.
Mancuso is well known and respected, but he’s running against Jeff Grayzel, who broke the GOP’s hold on township government by winning a special election in 2007. He gave up his committee seat last year to run – unsuccessfully as it turned out – for the state Senate in LD-25. Now he wants to get back on the committee.
Democrats have yet to select a candidate to run for Olivo-Moore’s open seat.
But on Monday, Republicans picked Sherry Nardolillo.
In a phone conversation today, Nardolillo said it’s important for new people to get involved in local politics, noting that they can offer a perspective that some political veterans may miss.
She said some of the issues she cares about are basic quality of life matters like safe streets and crosswalks, traffic congestion and, not surprisingly, property taxes. School taxes are a perennial issue and they also can be a bit complicated. Morris Township and Morristown share a K-12 school district and nearby Morris Plains sends high school students to Morristown High.
Calvanelli, the party chair and a former committee member and candidate, wanted to run again himself. But he says he has no problem with local Republicans picking Nardolillo.
Sometimes, he said, there’s a clash between a political party’s “old guard” and “new guard.”
But not in Morris Township, Calvanelli said confidently.