Morris Freeholder Tilt: And Then There were Six…

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No one would call county freeholder a prestige job.

County government, which is stuck between the more visible municipal and state layers of government, is largely obscure. The average guy or gal is more likely to know the mayor and council members in their town than they are the freeholders. That’s no fault of the freeholders.

It’s just the way things are.

Still, freeholder remains a steppingstone of sorts for politicians. And that probably explains why eight Republicans stepped forward to seek a Morris County freeholder seat just vacated by Heather Darling, who is now the county surrogate.

Two of them, Mary Gallagher of Mount Olive and Thomas DeLorenzo of Parsippany. have since backed out.

Six remain.

They are in alphabetical order, Christian Barranco of Jefferson, Robert Catalanello of Madison,  Alison Deeb of Morristown, Melissa Florance-Lynch of Pequannock, Bruce Meringolo of Long Hill and Tayfun Selen of Chatham Township.

The Morris County Republican Committee will select the new freeholder at a convention Saturday in Randolph. The winner must get a majority of votes, so more than one ballot is possible.

Campaigning for a seat filled at a county committee convention usually has more to do with personal contact and friendships than ideology. Keep in mind this is an all-Republican board and that all candidates talk in one way or another about efficient government and keeping taxes as low as possible.

If there is any possible controversy on the horizon for the freeholder board, it likely is a developing plan to build a new county courthouse. This is the type of thing that’s sure to draw fire from so-called fiscal hawks.

In addition to freeholder, there is also a bookkeeping matter for Morris Republicans to address.

That would be appointing Aura Dunn to fill a vacant Assembly seat in the 25th District that was officially won last fall by Anthony M. Bucco. But he is now in the Senate, replacing his father who died last September.

Some may recall that Dunn handily won a contested convention in November to do just that – fill the 25th District Assembly seat.  But that appointment was merely for the Assembly term that ended two weeks ago.

When the new Assembly term began, Dunn had to vacate the premises until she was selected as Bucco’s replacement for the current term.

That selection is expected to take place Saturday by affirmation, thereby ending Dunn’s two weeks or so in political limbo as a former Assemblywoman in waiting.

All this maneuvering means Dunn has to run in a special election this year to keep the seat.

The Democratic candidate is expected to be Darcy Draeger, who ran unsuccessfully for an Assembly seat last year.

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