Three Maplewood Democrats will vie for two seats in the primary election for the Maplewood Township Committee on June 2, while a lone Republican has filed to run.
Incumbent Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan and Planning Board member Nancy Adams are running on a ticket against challenger Greg Lembrich. Ryan and Adams were selected from amongst eight candidates — including Lembrich — and received the Maplewood Democratic Committee’s endorsement. Lembrich is running without the MDC’s official endorsement.
Phyllis Scalera, endorsed by the Essex Republican Party Organization, Inc., also filed to run as of the deadline earlier today, according to Township Clerk Liz Fritzen.
Adams and Ryan announced the formation of their campaign committee today after filing their petitions. Former Vice-Mayor Celia King will serve as chair of the Adams-Ryan campaign, while Planning Board Chair Tom Carlson will serve as the campaign manager. “I have known these dedicated, experienced and caring individuals for many years,” wrote King in a release, “and strongly believe they are the team Maplewood needs right now. I am honored to have the opportunity to support them.”
Carlson added, “I’ve served with both Nancy and Jerry on the Planning Board. Their dedication and careful consideration of applications before us is consistently impressive. They are not afraid to disagree and present their thoughts on issues, which ultimately brings about the best for Maplewood; I have no doubt they will do the same on the Township Committee.”
Adams is a founder of both the Springfield Avenue Partnership and the College Hill Neighborhood Association, and serves on the Maplewood Planning Board and the League of Women Voters. She has worked for 20 years in downtown revitalization and management, including, most recently, as Executive Director of the Red Bank [NJ] RiverCenter Special Improvement District. In the campaign announcement, Adams said, “I want to bring my experience and provide input in the important work of redevelopment and business recruitment needed to continue to move our business districts in the direction that will strengthen their economic base while retaining the charm of Maplewood we all know and love.”
Ryan has served as a member of the Township Committee for 19 years, including three years as Mayor. He serves on the Maplewood Planning Board, was a founding trustee of the Community Coalition on Race, worked to form the Springfield Avenue Partnership, and has served as a volunteer with the South Mountain YMCA board and the Board of Trustees of The Strollers Community Theatre. “I look forward to building upon the work we have done to control budgets, deliver high quality services, expand our cultural affairs offerings, and collaborate in a creative way with our neighbors to share services and facilities,” Ryan said.
According to Maplewood Democratic Committee Chair Ian Grodman, “We had a strong turnout of eight quality candidates asking for the MDC’s endorsement, but Nancy and Jerry’s wealth of knowledge and exceptional history of public service in Maplewood showed that they were the strongest of candidates.”
Greg Lembrich, who has been a Maplewood resident since 2007, is Associate General Counsel for New York Life Insurance Co. Lembrich is married with a four-year-old daughter. Lembrich announced his candidacy over the weekend as he gathered signatures for his petition in Maplewood Village.
Former Mayor Fred Profeta and Former Township Committeeman David Huemer are serving as co-chairs of Lembrich’s campaign. Both Profeta and Huemer are also members of the MDC.
On Lembrich’s Facebook campaign page, Profeta posted, “Greg is an outstanding candidate and I back him fully. We need youth on the Maplewood Township Committee, fresh ideas, creative intelligence, and a willingness to listen to public opinion. Greg embodies all of these qualities. His ideas for Maplewood are what we need now. Stay tuned and listen to what he has to say. You will be impressed.”
Lembrich told The Village Green that he was inspired rather than discouraged by the MDC process and his lack of an endorsement: “In the process I became more excited to get involved…. But at the end of the day, 30 people in a conference room don’t get to decide who should get to govern a town of 24,000 people.”
Profeta said he did not see Lembrich’s candidacy as indicating “any kind of a split” on the MDC. “I think this is the healthiest discussion we’ve had on the MDC in 15 years. It was a very close vote… and a very robust debate and a lot of talk about getting new blood on the committee.”
Profeta himself was initially elected to the TC without the MDC endorsement, and current Mayor Vic DeLuca regained a seat on the TC — after losing an election — without the MDC’s endorsement. In fact, Adams also ran in a primary as an unendorsed candidate in 2006 (with Lester Lewis-Powder) and lost.
Grodman addressed the contested nature of the primary by saying he hoped that younger candidates like Lembrich would become more engaged in the civic life of the town. “I have personally encouraged each of those younger and newer resident candidates to become involved in the civic life of our town, and, with the assistance of leaders in the township, introduced a number of them to organizations which may benefit from their talents, and which would give them greater opportunities to learn more about Maplewood. Although these candidates sparked the interest of the Committee, in the end, the knowledge and local experience of candidates Nancy Adams and Jerry Ryan led them to garner a clear majority of the support of the Committee.”
The Village Green is currently working to contact Scalera.
The primary election is on June 2, 2015.