Middlesex Democrats Thuravil, Hunt to run for County Freeholder with County Clerk Candidate Tarbous
Candidates to skip MCDO convention to take message to voters instead; call for the end to ballot manipulation
New Brunswick, NJ – Two progressive candidates announced their intention to run together for Board of Chosen Freeholder in this year’s Democratic Primary. Neeharika Thuravil and Catherine Hunt, both members of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization representing their hometowns of Plainsboro and Monroe respectively, said today they would be running with Herb Tarbous of Piscataway, who had previously announced his candidacy for the Clerk’s office. The three candidates expect to run with a slate of other progressive candidates in the upcoming June 2 contest.
“Middlesex County families deserve Freeholders who will take a stand for our environment and for our future. The current Freeholder Board refused to oppose the Franklin Gas Compressor, which would have to go through Middlesex County,” said Thuravil. “We want our elected officials to stand up for our health and our communities at every opportunity. We need elected officials who are moving us off fossil fuel and towards a green future. When they had the chance to stand up for the planet and for all of our health, they chose to be silent.”
Hunt said there needs to be significantly more transparency and accountability throughout the County government. “We want a full audit of the patronage positions are held by politically connected individuals across the County. It seems at least Piscataway’s political machine treats the County as a full-time employment agency: the husband of Piscataway’s Council President Gabrielle Cahill has a County job in the Accounts Payable Department; the Mayor of Piscataway, Brian Wahler, has a full time job at the Middlesex County Improvement Authority; Piscataway Councilman Steve Cahn serves as the attorney for the Middlesex County Planning Board. And the list goes on: the former Mayor of Piscataway, Ted Light, chairs the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, and one of the Authority’s Commissioners, James Zullo, is married to a Piscataway Democratic Committeewoman, Tanya Zullo. This is just one town in our great county. Taxpayers need to know that county staff and leaders are being chosen for their competency, not their connections.”
Tarbous had already declared his candidacy for Clerk when Elaine Flynn announced her retirement, calling for an open ballot and a fair election process. A former Democratic Committeeman, Tarbous said the slate chose not to screen at the MCDO convention next week and will be out talking to voters instead. “We know the County Party will try to use its undue, undemocratic influence of The Line to promote candidates,” he said. “We will be talking to voters so they can decide for themselves who to vote for on June 2.”
He further noted the MCDO had not announced a process for choosing a presidential candidate, and the call to split lower ballot candidates from the presidential ones exposed the organization’s hypocrisy. “They want the Line when it helps them but not when it can help others. We need to abolish the line” he said. The candidates will be exploring all the remedies available to them to address the Line, including legal action, he said.