Get ready for an intra-party battle: Republican Town Council member Paul Carifi Jr. announced Thursday that he is launching a new political fight.
"I am announcing my candidacy as mayor of Parsippany-Troy Hills," he said before a standing room only crowd of supporters.
The announcement came at Carifi's campaign launch rally at newly opened deli Rick's Bistro on Route 10 Monday evening.
The councilman said he chose Rick's, which opened its doors officially last week, because he wanted to support "a business that chose Parsippany."
Bringing businesses to the township, he said, is one of the tentpoles of his campaign. The councilman, who recently retired from the Morris County Sheriff's office, told Patch he is running for mayor because he sees it as the only way to make that happen.
"In my time on the council, I've seen opportunities go by," he said. "I've seen businesses leave. And I've seen that as a councilman, you can talk about things, but it is the mayor that has the power to get things done."
He told the crowd that he also wants to focus on being a mayor who will do what he promises.
Referring to Mayor James Barberio, whom he will face in the June primary, Carifi said that from the council dais he saw "a lot of promises that have not been fulfilled," though he did not specify those promises.
"There have been a lot of lost opportunities for taxpayers," he said. "I worked for positive change and pushed the mayor and the council toward positive change."
Carifi said that as a councilman he pushed to have the sewer surplus returned to taxpayers.
"Just recently the mayor agreed to do that," he noted. "I think that [the sewer rate] can be lowered even more. I will be looking to do that in the future."
He also said he would continue to work on preventing residential stacking and noted that he was instrumental in making sure that Barberio's attempt to amend the town's maximum occupancy ordinance failed.
"I thought [Barberio's idea to offer waivers] would make stacking easier," Carifi said. "I told my reasons and the council went along with it. We're now working on the occupancy ordinance."
He also said that he made suggestions to reduce the mayor's 2012 municipal budget that were passed by the council and put into effect.
"As the campaign goes on, I will continue to push my agenda to work for solutions rather than pointing fingers and blaming others," he said.
"The time for change is now."
Carifi told Patch he wants to run a positive campaign.
"I'm not going to make this ugly," he said. "I have a sense of how the attacks will go. If the mayor says something against me, I will answer him, but I'm not going after him. I am running because of what I believe and what's going on in the township."
Former Councilman and U.S. Air Force reservist James Vigilante said he is throwing his support firmly behind Carifi.
"I am loyal to those who are loyal to me," Vigilante explained, noting that he drove to Parsippany in full uniform from Maguire Air Force Base, where the reservist serves. "Paul and his brother and their families have always been supportive of me. They recently supported me in [a bid for] the Township Council vacancy.
"I truly believe Paul has the leadership qualities to take this town in a forward direction. I believe the current [mayor] has not fulfilled his potential. Because of weak economic times, we need someone who can carry Parsippany into the future."
Mayoral candidates need 50 petition signatures to be eligible to file, and Carifi took opportunity of the event to solicit people to fill out the form to allow him to make the run for office.
Carifi's council term is up at start of 2016, he said. Should he win, the Republican Municipal Committee would appoint Carifi's successor.
There had been speculation that Carifi might run for Morris County Sheriff Edward Rochford's job, but those whispers turned out to be unfounded.
Among the attendees were current school board members James Carifi (the candidate's brother) and Anthony DeIntinis, former Board of Education member and retired police officer Dr. Louis Valori, former Councilman Bill Clark, Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce President Robert J. Peluso and PACC board members Ildiko Peluso and Frank Cahill.
Drew Warner, a local business owner, said he is a big Carifi supporter.
"I like what he stands for," Warner said, adding that he has known the candidate for abot 15 years. "I think he will make a great mayor. He's dedicated, he's honest and I think now that he's retired, he's going to have the time and energy which is required to give the people what they want."