A local Republican challenger who was defeated last night in his 5th bid for election to the Maplewood Township Committee says that local elections should be non-partisan. But incumbent Mayor Vic DeLuca, on the Township Committee on Tuesday, made a clear statement in support of partisan elections.
“Though to many it may sound like sour grapes," wrote Bart Albini in an email message to Patch, "I did not expect the results to be any different. Until we have non-partisan campaigns and elections, there will never be a difference in the election outcome. There are too many voters who vote the line without understanding the real issues."
Albini cited Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta as a case in point. "He was a Republican, changed his political allegiance, ran as an Independent for the Township Committee post and lost. Changed his political allegiance again; ran, the following year, for the Township Committee as a Democrat, and won."
On Tuesday, DeLuca and Larrier defeated Albini and his running mate Joel Ziegler by a 3.5-to-1 margin. In 2010, Democrat Marlon K. Brownlee defeated Albini by a 3-to-1 margin, and, in 2009, Democrats Kathy Leventhal and Jerry Ryan defeated Albini and running mate Bob Perez by a 2.5-to-1 margin.
"I have been told several times, that if I change my allegiance to Democrat, Democratic voters would vote for me, and I would probably be elected," said Albini. "This is truly a sorry state of affairs that an individual must compromise his/her ethics and philosophy to help his/her community in order to overcome blindness voting."
DeLuca made a strong statement in support of the continuation of partisan elections at his victory party — with running mate India Larrier — last night at Maplewood Pizzeria.
"People say there shouldn't be parties at the local level. I absolutely disagree," said DeLuca.
"What we're about is a difference in ideas," DeLuca continued. "And the Democratic Party stands for something. It stands for open government, getting people involved, having a progressive government, a progress viewpoint."
Maplewood had a solidly Republican elected leadership for decades. The first Democrat was elected to Township Committee in the 1970s, but the Committee did not become majority Democrat until the early 1990s. Former Mayor Robert Grasmere was the last Republican elected. When he declined to run again, the Township Committee became entirely Democratic in January 1995 and has remained so ever since.
Meanwhile, in his message, Albini offered criticisms of the current elected officials, not congratulations to his opponents: "We have a Township Committee that caters to the whims of the few and to special interest groups without any regards to the majority of the residents of Maplewood. If the Township Committee is allowed to continue in their current direction of borrowing, spending, and taxing the residents; it will only be a matter of time before we become another Irvington.”