Who’s Up and Who’s Down: The Aftermath of May 10th

Which of these Mayors re-elected on Tuesday has the most potential for future higher office?

WHO’S UP

Amalia Duarte

The only Democrat on the Mendham Township Committee was elected chair Monday of the Morris County Democratic Committee by acclimation.

Ras Baraka

The Mayor of Newark won reelection to a third term by an overwhelming margin: 13,758 votes to his opponent’s 2,833 (83-17%). Now, Baraka must turn his attention to the West and South wards, where his allies face a pair of June 14th runoff elections. In the South, Pat Council has a sizeable upper-hand on rival Terrance Bankston (1,811 to 704) and narrowly missed the mark to avoid a runoff with an amassed 46% of the South Ward vote. In the West, the mayor must contend with what appears to be a closer election, as his candidate, Dupre Kelly (38% of the vote) faces Chigozie Onyema (29%) in the runoff. The mayor must also turn his attention to another problem: voter apathy. Turnout in Essex County elections was 12% and Newark unofficially registered south of that, infuriating Baraka, who blamed the Essex County Board of Elections for switching polling places in the 11th hour. But the progressive mayor with a real record of confronting some of Newark’s toughest challenges, still has the challenge – especially if he intends to run for governor – of motivating a moribund electorate.

Andre Sayegh

In pursuit of his second term, the Paterson mayor didn’t quite get to 50%, but he was close at around 48%. There’s no runoff in the Silk City, which registered a 16.5% voter turnout reflective of deep disengagement from the process by most voters. Still, the animated – and politically shrewd – Sayegh did what he needed to do to win, drubbing longtime rival Alex Mendez 6,603 to 3,581 votes. Incumbent Councilwomen Lilisa Mimms (top vote-getter) and Maritza Davila also proved their strength. If the election proved Sayegh’s caginess in neutralizing his enemies, it also showed – like Newark – that the city’s political arm needs to do a better job of connecting to the concerns of real people and re-inspire them, rather than merely rely on the intrigues of a tiny voter base.

Tony Vauss

The Mayor of Irvington beat rival Paul Inman by a 81-19% margin, 3,457 votes to 822. The mayor’s allies – Councilwomen Renee Burgess, October Hudley, and Charnette Frederic – all won by equally dominant margins. They each received around 25% of the vote, while Inman running mates Yasmina King, Allison Morris, and Darrell Watford received 9%, 8%, and 8%, respectively. The win secured for Vauss – who has a reputation for competence and strong City Hall management skills – his third term in office.

Jimmy Davis

Seeking his third term in office, the Mayor of Bayonne received 4,899 votes to Sharon Ashe Nadrowski’s 4,124. The 50.77 to 42.74 differential put Davis in position to avoid a runoff election.

Michael Melham

It was a very good night for the Mayor of Belleville, who with his at-large council allies routed his opponent and his opponent’s ticket. Melham received 2,780 of 62.64% of the vote to 1,658 or 37.36 for challenger Steve Rovell. Melham’s two council candidates, Naomy DePena and Thomas Graziano, swept in with ease.

WHO’S DOWN

Alex Mendez

It’s over. Let’s face it. Without a credible Pedro Rodriguez in the contest splitting the Latino vote, Mendez still fell woefully short in his May 10th mayoral bid. Animated, dynamic, charming, he still faces the reality of being a candidate running while under indictment for voter fraud. The voters didn’t respond to him.

Jose Torres

The former Mayor of Paterson – jammed up and jailed on corruption charges – went all in with Mendez in very public fashion and succeeded in making his candidate looking doubly encumbered.

Mike Jackson

Like Mendez, the First Ward Councilman labored for mayor under a voter fraud indictment, and finished an undistinguished third in the five-man race.

Louis Weber

Ras Baraka’s hand-picked candidate in the East Ward, a former cop, couldn’t shake a troubled police record and collected just 417 votes to finish in last place behind Jonathan Seabra. It was a bit of an embarrassment, and proved either Baraka’s inability to play for a seat in the East Ward or Weber’s flawed candidacy, or both. In the meantime, Mike Silva was Tuesday’s top vote-getter in the East with 1,042 votes, followed by Anthony Campos (1,000), who will face other in the June 14th runoff.

Democracy

As Ukrainians fight the invading Russian Army on their own soil in defense of self-determination, New Jerseyans roll over and yawn at the prospect of voting in local elections, as just 12 percent of those eligible to vote turned out in Essex, less than that in Newark, and 16.5% in Paterson. Shameful.

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