Republicans maintain municipal monopoly


Harrison’s Republican winners smile after winning decisively against all Democratic challengers. Pictured from left to right: Councilman Joe Cannella, Town Clerk Jackie Greer, Councilwoman Marlane Amelio and Mayor Ron Belmont. Photo/Phil Nobile

Defeating their Democratic challengers in an early and decisive fashion, all incumbent Republican Town councilpersons, town clerk and receiver-of-taxes positions will remain the same in Harrison.

Council incumbents Joe Cannella and Marlane Amelio, Town Clerk Jackie Greer and Receiver-of-Taxes Nancy Briotte-Masi won with ease in the 2013 town elections, grabbing the majority of votes on Election Day.

The Democratic ticket headlined by mayoral candidate Joan Walsh, consisting of council candidates Margaret Pritchard and Rosemarie Verano, town clerk candidate Margaret Conover and receiver-of-taxes candidate Maria Fraioli-Fiore fell behind their Republican counterparts early as the margin widened and the night progressed.

“I am very grateful for the support the voters have shown,” Councilwoman Amelio said during the team’s party at the John Cabotto Club. “It clearly indicates they recognize the [Ron] Belmont team is a great team, we’re a pro-active team, and we’re moving the town in a forward direction, and the people have responded to that.”

Based on unofficial numbers from the county Board of Elections, 16 out of 20 voting districts reported results at press time. Amelio and Cannella received 33 percent and 36 percent of the votes respectively. Pritchard and Verano gained only 15 percent and 16 percent of votes respectively.

In the race for town clerk, Greer captured 73 percent of the votes compared to just 27 percent for Conover.Briotte-Masi received 64 percent while Fraioli-Fiore received 36 percent of the votes for receiver of taxes.

After the election was in the Republicans’ pocket, Democratic council candidate Pritchard repeated her team’s desire for transparency during town meetings, a key point brought up during campaign season.

“We need to press forward with getting this board to have more public discussions,” Pritchard said at the Walsh campaign’s gathering at Aquario in West Harrison. “People really don’t know what’s happening, and maybe, judging from the vote, most people don’t care what happens on a local level.”

When asked about future involvement with the town, Verano expressed interest in developing a combined committee for an opposing side to tackle future endeavors.

“I hope that the winners will allow us to sit down and start a taskforce regarding some of the concerns raised to us and maybe start working on those issues,” Verano said. “Working as a team would be a way to support the town still.”

Councilman Cannella echoed Verano’s statement, hoping the Walsh team candidates would remain involved with the town.

“They should stay involved with the process and continue to be actively engaged in the town, and I expect they will,” Cannella said. “They had views, expressed them, and we respect the views they had.”

Almost immediately after declaring victory, Councilwoman Amelio expressed interest in future legislation regarding the healthcare given to town officials.

In the early 2000s, the minimum age eligibility for an elected official to receive health benefits was brought down to eight years . According to Amelio, they can’t change it for current council members, but would like to for members going forward.

“I don’t believe elected officials should receive benefits at all, to be honest, but I would like to at least bring the minimum [requirement] up to 12 to 15 years,” Amelio said. “In the current economy with healthcare so costly, it’s the right thing to do for residents.”

Cannella, who partcipated in his fourth campaign this year, said the job the board was elected to do will go on “like any other day.”

“Tomorrow is no different than yesterday, the day after yesterday or the day before that,” Cannella said. “We will continue to do what we need to do to keep Harrison moving in the right direction. It’s our job.”

Current Republcian councilmen Fred Sciliano and Stephen Malfitano will be up for re-election in 2015.