North Ward Dems Raise $35K at Holiday Fundraiser
The North Ward Democrats raised more than $35,000 at a fundraiser Tuesday, capping off a successful year in which the organization solidified its place as one of the strongest and most powerful municipal committees in New Jersey.
Chairman Samuel Gonzalez told the overflow crowd gathered at Marbella’s Lounge in Newark’s North Ward that he was proud of the committee members for their role in helping to elect officials to city, county and statewide office.
“I’m thankful to all the members of our committee who worked so hard year after year, election after election to elect good candidates who now have the opportunity to work on behalf of the residents of this great state, Essex County and the City of Newark,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez took over the committee in 2014 from Fran Adubato, the wife of Steve Adubato, founder of The North Ward Center and a longtime force in Newark, Essex and statewide politics until just a few years ago.
The fundraiser was hosted by Gonzalez, along with Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr., Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., DiVincenzo Chief of Staff Philip Alagia.
Among the guests were Mayor Ras Baraka, Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin and Shanique Davis Speight, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, Essex County Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson, Essex County Freeholder Pat Sebold, Newark Councilmen-at-Large Carlos M Gonzalez and Luis A. Quintana and Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia along with dozens of rank and file members of the organization.
Guests brought unwrapped toys for a holiday celebration later this month for less fortunate North Ward residents.
Like Adubato, who held the seat for a generation, Gonzalez works closely with Essex County Democratic Chair LeRoy Jones as well as Ramos, Baraka and DiVincenzo, to ensure the North Ward is represented at every level of government.
This year, the committee helped North Ward resident Juan Rivera secure a seat as the Essex County Register, a constitutional post within the county government.
In April, the committee worked with Baraka and education groups to elect three members of the school board. Tave Padilla was the North Ward-backed candidate. Josephine C. Garcia, the board president, and board member Yambelli Gomez are also backed by the North Ward Democrats.
In 2017, North Ward-backed candidate Robert Mercado won a seat on the Essex County Freeholder Board representing District 1, a seat that has been firmly in control of the North Ward Democrats for more than a generation.
Ramos, who has held his seat since 2006, won the last election in 2018 with nearly 90% of the vote. Ramos told the crowd that he once was an outsider, but grew to respect the organization and what it can do for residents of the North Ward.
“The North Ward Democratic party backs candidates who are committed to doing what’s right for the residents of the North Ward and Newark,” Ramos said. “That’s the reason our candidates enjoy such widespread support.”
Ruiz, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, also traces her roots to the North Ward Democratic party. Ruiz, who was first elected to office in 2007 with the backing of the North Ward Democrats, was elected in her last election in 2017 with more than 87% of the vote.
DiVincenzo, an Adubato protégé, a former freeholder and North Ward native, was first elected in 2002. He has won re-election four times, the last in 2018 with 81% of the vote. DiVincenzo is considered among the most powerful Democrats in New Jersey.