Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of April 11th



Deborah Gregory and Uchenna Onyeani

The President of the Newark NAACP and chiropractor/director at Priority Healthcare respectively this

week headed up and moderated the Newark South Ward debate among six candidates competing in the May 10th election. Hosted by The Historic Weequahic Neighborhood Association, Concerned Citizens of Clinton Hill, Newark Branch NAACP, 100 Urban League of Essex County and Clinton Hill Community Action, the standing-room only event featured excellent in-depth questioning and time management for maximum program efficiency.

Frank Pallotta and Linda Barba

The columns are set in the contested Bergen County Republican Primary, and it can’t make the party chairman – or his allies – happy. Unsupported by the county party organization, the team of Pallotta (5th Congressional District) and Barba (Bergen County Executive) – and their three commission candidates – won Column One. They’re also running against the BCRO with the slogan “Bergen County Republicans” – a case of heads-up playmaking by veteran GOP operative Jim Arakelian.

Zenon Christodoulou and Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

Governor Phil Murphy announced his nominations of Christodoulou – vice chair of the Somerset County Democrats – and Maria Rodriguez-Gregg – former GOP Assemblywoman – as Commissioners on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). Their nominations will go to the Senate for confirmation.

Preethy Thangaraj

Thangaraj will serve as the policy advisor to the Governor on energy and environment and serve within the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy. He initially joined the Governor’s Office in 2021 as a policy coordinator, supporting the energy, environment, and transportation portfolio. Prior to working in the Administration, Thangaraj served as an energy informatics and policy research specialist at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

Teresa Ruiz, Tony Bucco, Lou Greenwald and Aura Dunn

The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD), the lead advocacy organization supporting the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus, this week announced that Senate Majority Leader Ruiz (D), Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald (D), Senator Bucco (R) and Assemblywoman Dunn (R) will serve as co-chairs of the bipartisan Disability Caucus for the 2022-2023 Legislative Session. All four lawmakers were founding members of the Caucus that launched last year.



New Jersey

The New Jersey Legislature still doesn’t care that a Democrat – and ally of former state Senator Ray Lesniak – who admitted murdering his business partner, was one of the state’s most prominent PAC rats. People are getting bumped off out there in the New Jersey political underworld, and it’s no secret. Maybe it’s time to actually DO something about “dark money.” Apparently not, say the people in charge in Trenton, among them Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22).

Ocean County Government

From the Asbury Park Press: “The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the hiring practices of Ocean County government, issuing a subpoena for the employment applications of all personnel appointed to positions over the past five years. Federal investigators also have subpoenaed all of the county government’s personnel resolutions approved by the Board of Commissioners for the same time period — which would include hiring authorizations, raises and approvals for leaves of absences, according to a copy of the subpoena. Any referrals or other hiring correspondence from the Ocean County commissioners are also to be turned over to the federal government, according to the 10-page writ.”

Brian Varela

After watching close to two full days of court hearings, the Democratic Party contender in CD-8 realized his congressional petition lacked the 200 signatures needed to get on the ballot as an alternative to party favorite Robert Menendez Jr. So, he quickly told the court he was withdrawing his candidacy.

Nick De Gregorio and Todd Caliguire

The Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO)-backed De Gregorio (5th Congressional District) and Caliguire (Bergen County Executive) and their commissioner candidate allies drew Column Two, with the slogan “Republicans for Responsible Government.”

Marko Nakhla

Authorities on Wednesday arrested the Hudson County Corrections Officer from Bayonne on one count of forgery, a fourth-degree crime. According to the Jersey Journal, “The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office investigation revealed that Nakhla submitted the falsified records to his employer to receive additional paid medical leave.”


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