Franklin Democrats Sworn In by NJ Speaker

On January 6, 2020 Franklin Township gathered to swear-in a newly elected Democratic councilman following his victory last November.  History was also made with the appointment of Coucilman Charles Onyejiaka, the first West African to be voted Deputy Mayor in the Township's history.  NJ Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson, Somerset County Freeholder Deputy Director Sara Sooy, along with our own Chairwoman Peg Schaffer were on hand to celebrate the occasion.   Continue reading

Somerville Swears in Democratic Mayor and Council

On January 1, 2020 Somerville gathered for it's annual reorganization during which the Mayor of Somerville along with several members of the Town Council were sworn in for a new term in office.   Continue reading

Democrats Take Montgomery

On January 2, 2020 newly-elected Democrats Devra Keenan and Kent Huang were sworn in to the Montgomery Township Committee following their elections in November 2019.  Assembelymen Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker were on hand to perform the oath of office.       Continue reading

Somerset County Democrats Applaud Russo and Marano’s Swearing In, Historic Reorganization Of Freeholder Board

  Governor Murphy, House Members Watson-Coleman and Malinowski Participated in Historic Transfer of Freeholder Board and Sheriff’s Office Control to Democratic Leadership.  Hundreds of New Jersey Democrats crowded the Historic Somerset County Courthouse today to celebrate Governor Phil Murphy swearing in Melonie Marano as the newest Somerset County Freeholder and Darrin Russo as the new Somerset County Sheriff.  "I am thrilled to swear in a Democratic majority on the Somerset County Freeholder Board for the first time since 1965,” said Governor Murphy. “This change didn't happen by accident -- it's due to incredible leadership from Chairwoman Peg Schaffer, dynamic candidates like Melonie Marano and Darrin Russo, key investments by our state Democratic Party that helped strengthen their campaigns, grassroots leaders who devoted their time and effort to turning Somerset County blue, and the committed message of building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that is resonating here and throughout our state.”  Continue reading

Somerset County Republicans At It Again: Sneaking RVCC Appointments Through At Last Minute

Despite Voters’ Call For Change, Somerset GOP Stacking Deck in Lame Duck With Their “Good Guy” Buddy Somerville, NJ - At the final Somerset County Freeholder meeting of 2019 and following the election of a Democratic majority to the board, lame-duck Republicans have decided to ignore the voters’ call for change and spring appointments at the last minute without following accepted policies and procedures. “Democrats ran on a campaign of openness, transparency and solid vetting of appointments to ensure Somerset County has the best possible staff and volunteers for our residents,” said Freeholder Shanel Robinson. “The voters agreed with us that the old ways aren’t working.” Continue reading

With One Foot Out the Door, Parenti Demands More than a Quarter Million Dollars in Retirement Pay from North Plainfield While Cashing His Regular Paychecks

After Hypocritically Calling for Franklin Police to Give up Community Policing Pay, Parenti Rakes in Six Figures for Not Going on Vacation or Calling in Sick Continue reading

Pat Walsh’s Campaign Lies—Yes, Lies -- About Her Tax Record

Pat Walsh’s Campaign Lies—Yes, Lies -- About Her Tax Record Spends $50K or More on TV Ads Blasting Marano for Raises and Taxes Walsh Introduced and Voted For   Republican Pat Walsh has repeatedly claimed to have cut taxes over her more than a decade as a Somerset County Freeholder, most recently in an October 9, 2019 Facebook post. The claim is demonstrably untrue, as every year since 2011 Walsh has voted to increase the amount of taxes collected every single year for a total of $29 million more by 2019. Continue reading

STATEMENT BY PEG SCHAFFER, SOMERSET COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CHAIR ON BRAMNICK LAW FIRM SEXUAL ASSAULT DEFENSE STRATEGY

      I can’t believe I have to say this in 2019, but it is not OK for a law firm to use victim shaming as a defense strategy for clients accused of rape and sexual assault. Yet today we learned that the law firm headed by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick not only uses such tactics, but promotes it publicly on its website to recruit potential clients. Rape and sexual assault are some of the least reported crimes in no small part because women fear that they will have their own reputations harmed for the actions of another. Mr. Bramnick is advertising to any woman who has been raped by a man, or child abused by an adult they trust, that even if they justly accuse his client he will seek to turn the tables on them.  As a woman and an attorney, I find this appalling and wholly unacceptable. Mr. Bramnick has taken the phrase “discredit your accuser” from the “Rape” and “Sexual Assault” pages of his website, but only after being publicly shamed himself. He must issue a public apology to the many victims of sexual assault in his district, including Watchung and Warren in Somerset County, and in fact everywhere. Even that is not enough, but it will at least be a start to repairing the damage he has done. I invite Somerset County Deputy Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh, who pledged in May 2019 to speak up for the weak and abused, to join me in condemning this reprehensible behavior, and calling for a public apology.

Democrats Call for Formal Nomination Process Following Outcry Over Republican Freeholder’s Nomination of “Straight Pride” Activist to RVCC Board

Failure to Have A Formal, Public Nomination Process for Freeholder Appointments to Boards and Commissions Risks Integrity of County Government [Somerville, NJ] – Somerset County Democratic Freeholder Candidate Melonie Marano called for immediate changes to the haphazard, crony laden board and commission nomination process the Republican Party has followed for decades. The call came the day after hundreds of concerned citizens and students filled a Raritan Valley Community College’s (RVCC) Board meeting following the discovery that board member Dr. Felecia Nace is an a anti-LBGTQ+ activist who spoke at the “Straight Pride” march in Boston last month. “Someone like Dr. Nace, whose beliefs are in direct contradiction to our county college’s mission of inclusion and diversity, would never have been nominated except in a closed, secretive process like the one the Republican Party has used for decades,” said Marano. “The process leads not just to cronyism, but the resulting limited pool of applicants weakens our boards and commissions and creates a lower quality of services for our communities.” When the media contacted Freeholder Pat Walsh about her nomination of Dr. Nace to the RVCC Board in 2017, she declined to comment and allowed Somerset County Republican Party Chair Al Gaburo to speak for her. In speaking for Walsh, Gaburo said, “I encourage anyone to check out Dr. Nace’s resume and challenge her credentials.” Even if Dr. Nace’s anti-LBGTQ+ activism was on her resume for people to review, finding the resumes of people nominated by the Somerset County Republican Freeholders is often difficult since many are not on file. In a previous Freeholder meeting, Freeholder Shanel Robinson called for standards to be enforced in the Somerset County Freeholder Board nomination process, asking for resumes for all nominations.  She stated that it is clear a new process is needed. Marano and Robinson proposed the following: A single section of the Somerset County website listing not only all boards and commissions, but vacancies and terms that end within the next 12 months;  A web form for interested candidates to apply for open positions, including resume uploads and skill reviews; Listing of all applicants under consideration on the agenda when a final vote is taken. “Our students deserve better than board members like Dr. Nace who actively oppose portions of the college’s mission, and our residents deserve the best people on our boards and commissions,” said Marano. “Fortunately, we are just one vote away from being able to professionalize our nomination process, and I look forward to being that vote when I join Shanel and Sara on the Freeholder Board in January.” ###

Somerset County Debate Results: Republican Freeholder Pat Walsh Refuses to Answer Trump Question, Says “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.” Chief Parenti Motivated By Politics

  [Somerville, NJ] – Somerset County Freeholder candidate Melonie Marano asked a very simple question of her opponent at the candidate debate hosted by the League of Women Voters last night. Marano asked Republican Walsh “if she supports Donald Trump for president in 2020.” Walsh, who was clearly flustered, decided to dodge the question and instead responded saying, “I cannot do anything about what happens in Washington” and that “I have no idea yet if I will support Donald Trump in 2020.” Somerset County, home of the Trump National Golf Course, is not immune to national issues such as LGBTQ+ rights. Recently, Marano called on Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) board member Dr. Felecia Nace to resign immediately after it was discovered that Dr. Nace was a leader and speaker at the “Straight Pride Parade” rally held in Boston last August. “At a time when our county is becoming more diverse, and our young college students are becoming more understanding about LGBTQ+ issues, we cannot have board members who actively try to exclude gay studies from education,” said Marano.   Dr. Nace’s nomination was made in July 2017 on a motion by Republican Freeholder Pat Walsh. The vote by the then all-Republican Freeholder Board was unanimous.  Republican County Chairman Al Gabruo took a page out of Walsh’s playbook and in response to the request for Nace to resign, avoided the issue and instead pointed to Dr. Nace’s qualifications. Walsh has also remained silent on the issue. Republican Walsh has a history of avoiding LGBTQ+ subjects. “This is part of a pattern with Pat. As Mayor of Green Brook in 2006 when civil unions became legal, she refused to perform any weddings in order to avoid performing a ceremony for a loving same-sex couple.”  Marano on the other hand stated, “I was proud to be the first Mayor in Green Brook to perform a same-sex civil union ceremony.” “The residents of Somerset County deserve a Freeholder board that doesn’t make mistakes like appointing an anti-LGBTQ+ activist to oversee the education of our college students,” said Marano. “Fortunately, the Somerset County Freeholder Board is one member away from real leadership that will be open, honest and supportive of the entire Somerset County community.” In the debate for Somerset County Sheriff, Republican candidate Bill Parenti touted his new initiatives, such as his recently announced partnership with the current Sheriff to combat opioid addiction.  Democratic candidate Darrin Russo asked a heartfelt question of his opponent Chief Parenti. Russo wanted to know what Parenti would say to the parents or family members of someone who has battled an opioid addiction over the past several years. Russo questioned “why as a chief for over a decade, head of the chief’s association and good buddy with the current sheriff, Parenti didn’t introduce these programs earlier.” Parenti simply stated “years ago I was not running for sheriff”.  The program introduced by Parenti has been in effect for several years in other communities. “Imagine the number of lives that we could have saved if programs to treat addiction were implemented years ago,” stated Russo. “It’s a shame that the Republican candidate for Sheriff didn’t use his current chief’s position to help the residents of this county and now he is scrambling to come up with ideas because he is running for office.”   ###

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