Secaucus councilman Michael Gonnelli announced an expected bid for mayor of Secaucus on Monday on a slate with fellow 2nd Ward councilman John Bueckner, who is up for re-election.
Gonnelli, also from the 2nd Ward, and Bueckner said they will run as Independent candidates with a slogan of “Take Back Secaucus.” Two more candidates are expected to be announced on the ticket in early May.
Councilman Gary Jeffas of the 1st Ward will serve as campaign treasurer and play a “major role” in the campaign, the candidates said.
Gonnelli, a frequent critic of Mayor Dennis Elwell, a Democrat running for re-election, said the current administration has “lost touch with the people of Secaucus.”
But before any Gonnelli-Elwell election showdown could become a reality, the mayor faces a June 2 primary challenge from public defender Peter Weiner and his own slate of three Democrats. Gonnelli said today that he will be watching that contest closely and begin his campaign after the primary vote.
The announcement of the Independent slate nearly completes the election picture for Secaucus for 2009.
Elwell last month set up his slate of Democrats to include 3rd Ward incumbent councilman John Reilly, newly minted councilwoman Dawn McAdam of the 1st Ward, and Frank Trombetta, a school board member from Gonnelli’s district of the 2nd Ward.
Weiner is running with Joe Morano of the 1st Ward and 3rd Ward resident Susan Pirro as “Democrats for Change in Secaucus.” There is no 2nd Ward candidate on that slate.
The Independents are planning a campaign rally for May 5 at the Zin Diner on Paterson Plan Road to announce 1st and 3rd Ward candidates for the ticket.
“We look forward to an issue-oriented campaign focused on ways we can improve Secaucus and make the government more accountable to the people,” Gonnelli said in a statement.
Gonnelli won his council seat in 2006 when he defeated incumbent Democrat Robert Kickey.