James Vigilante will be sworn in July 10 for the —and he already has a challenger for the upcoming November election he needs to win in order to keep his new position through 2013.
Jonathan Nelson, a Powder Mill area resident, graduate and longtime local businessman with deep roots in the town, announced his intention late Wednesday to run for the council's unexpired term seat.
"I want to give back to the town that raised me," said Nelson, 44, a Democratic committee member frequently seen at council and meetings.
"There are real important issues in this town that unfortunately have not been addressed," he said.
Those issues, said Nelson, include the water and sewer surplus, the disrepair of municipal roads and what he called the "slow response in replanting township trees lost in last year's freak [October] snowstorm."
"I am also quite concerned about the , the ones hardest hit by Hurricane Irene last summer," said Nelson. "Almost a year later, many of them are still displaced and fearful about what will happen to them. If I'm elected, I want to take an active role in helping them marshal the necessary resources to finally get their lives back to normal."
This is not his first time in the political ring. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2005.
Nelson's candidacy has already received the backing of the Parsippany Democratic Party.
"I know he can do a good job, and we need him," said party Chairperson Michael Soriano. "The current council has failed to provide oversight of the mayor and his activities. With fiascos such as the epic mishandling of the so-called Fields of Dreams, the , the blatant nepotism at the expense of the taxpayers, and the failure to investigate the cause of the flooding of Lake Hiawatha after Hurricane Irene, it is clear what is needed on the council is a person who will provide thoughtful oversight and not be swayed by political cronyism.
"That person is Jonathan Nelson."
Former Mayor Marceil "Mimi" Letts said she finds Nelson to be a solid citizen who is sincere about wanting to make a better Parsippany.
"Jonathan knows a lot about the town," said Letts. "Even more importantly, he cares about the important things in the town, mostly about its people, but also its infrastructure and making sure that we have the best possible services provided to us."
And Councilman-elect Vigilante, an Air Force reservist, businessman and past council member who Tuesday won the right to fill the seat only through the end of this year, said he welcomes Nelson to the race.
"I like a challenge," he said. "I know Jonathan. Good on him. I welcome anyone who wants to participate in the democratic process."
Nelson said he respects his opponent.
"I thank First Sgt. Vigilante for his longtime service to our town and our country," he said. "But it is time for a change to the council.
"Parsippany is in dire need of new energy and new ideas, independence and reason," he asserted. "The council needs to get back to its constitutional role as a check and balance to the executive power, and away from being a 'partner to the mayor.'
"The days of the rubber-stamp council must end."