The 2022 Snapshot of Saddle Brook

SADDLE BROOK – New Jersey has many, many towns, and as befits such a “home rule” state, many are having local elections this November.

These races don’t always get much attention.

One reason is lack of daily newspaper coverage. Another problem is that many are not competitive. In New Jersey, we have “Democratic” towns and “Republican” towns.

That doesn’t do much for a spirited contest.

Here, we offer a snapshot of a race in one of those many towns – Saddle Brook in central Bergen County. Township population is about 14.700 and median home values are $375,800.

The township council is all-Democratic, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

In 2020, township voters backed Donald Trump by about 230 votes. But at the same time, they supported Rep. Bill Pascrell by almost 500. Last year, in what was a good year for Republicans, all things considered, Jack Ciattarelli carried the town by about 670 votes.

In the municipal election this year, there are four candidates for two seats.

The Democrats are incumbent Todd J. Accomando and newcomer Sarah A. Sanchez.

The Republican challengers are George A. Cedeno Jr. and Gerard “Jerry” Taylor.

A debate was recently held among the four and one of the main issues was probably one that is surfacing in many such races across the state – one party rule.

It’s easy to be cynical. Those in control see nothing wrong with one party rule; those on the outside looking in think it’s horrible. There’s no philosophy here. Feelings have everything to do with who is in control, and who is not.

In the case at hand, Cedeno said he wants to shine a light on what government can do. Or as he put it:

“One party rule after a while can become problematic.”

As stated, Accomando is an incumbent and Sanchez is running on the Democratic ticket. Not surprisingly, they disagreed.

“If you’re going to do the right thing, you’re going to do the right thing. I don’t care what party affiliations” you have. That was Accomando’s take.

Sanchez said, “Regardless of your party, everybody brings their own ideas. Everybody has a different view.”

The reality of politics, however, is that differing personal views or not, people in the same party tend to vote the same.

Taylor, the other Republican, pointed out that local government in Saddle Brook has been one party for eight years, adding, “You need a new voice, you need new ideas.”

Accomando quickly corrected him. He said that the Democrats have totally controlled town government for only four years.

So, what “bad” things are happening because of one-party rule?

The Republicans pointed to plans to spend about $28 million to build a town hall. They said that should have gone to referendum.

Not so, replied Accomando. He said council members are elected to make decisions.

As stated, this is a local race, but the issues raised are probably being duplicated throughout New Jersey.

Drop into any municipal debate and you’ll likely hear variations of the same theme.

Such election contests may not seem overly gripping, but if all politics is indeed local, they should not be ignored.

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