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Mayor's Choice Falls Short in Council Bid

Parsippany GOP opts to add a woman to the field vying for Town Council vacancy.

The three candidates chosen to vie for Freeholder John Cesaro's vacated Township Council seat are Dr. Louis Valori, James Vigilante and Julie Carifi.

Left out of the contest is the candidate many believed was a sure bet: backed by Mayor James Barberio and Councilman Vincent Ferrara.

The Parsippany Republican Club, comprised of township GOP county committee members, gathered at the building at 100 Centerton Road for what most thought would be a quick exercise. 

Once the process of conducting the vote began, committee members made nominations for candidates. Barberio immediately named Shah. Nominations of Valori and Vigilante followed. 

Member Michael Strumolo nominated Vinny Schindel, a popular party member who was recently hospitalized and in intensive care and is now recovering at home. Every member present seconded Schindel's nomination. Per the body's rules, he had to accept or decline the nod on the spot. The mayor phoned Schindel, who turned it down.

 stood and, citing the , named Judy Tiedeman.

"I am greatly honored, a little embarrassed and surprised," Tiedeman said, adding that while she agreed that it is important to have a woman on the council, she could not accept the nomination.

Patricia Petaccia, another newly elected member, offered the name of ZBA member Loretta Gragnani as a nominee.

"I unseated her in the recent election, but I know the important work she has done for this town, and she deserves to move up the ladder," Petaccia said.

Gragnani thanked Petaccia for the nod, but declined because of her new position as an assistant to Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce.

Committee member Joseph Roman then put in the name of Julie Carifi, wife of Capt. James Carifi and sister-in-law of Councilman Paul Carifi Jr. The visibly surprised woman indicated that she would accept the nod.

With four candidates, the members voted to close the nomination period. Each of the four was then given an opportunity to speak to those assembled.

Julie Carifi cited her experience as a "Republican from the age of 18" who has worked in various political efforts including campaigns for her brother-in-law and for BettyLou DeCroce. 

"I will bring a fresh perspective and new opinions to the council," she said.

Shah said that rather than talk about his experience he would speak from his heart instead.

"For me, this is about community, commitment, dedication and service," he said, noting that he was lucky to have grown up in Parsippany and was eager to give something back to the town. "I will work with my council colleagues to bring down property taxes and generate new revenue."

Valori said he was running to represent the town as a "true Republican," adding that the Obama administration, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and what he labeled the "aggressive Democrat machine" are "ruining this country and this state."

He cited 25 years experience in law enforcement and pledged to give his back to the town.

The fourth candidate, James Vigilante, was not present for the meeting, as he is in San Diego on assignment for the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Councilman Michael dePierro spoke on his behalf.

DePierro recalled working side by side with the candidate during Vigilante's 12 years as a council member, including stints as president and vice president.

"He was a team player," DePierro said. "He asked questions and he listened to the answers. I enjoyed working with Jimmy, and I would love to see him come back."

The speeches completed, it was time for the vote. Each of the 64 voting members present filled out a paper ballot and was permitted to select up to three candidates. The three receiving the highest vote totals would have their names presented to the council the following night.

When the votes were tallied, Parsippany GOP President Nicole Green announced 52 votes for Valori, 38 for Vigilante—and 33 votes each for Carifi and Shah. She said the tie meant members would have to vote again and choose between the two.

The final tally of the second round of voting gave the victory to Carifi by a vote of 33-27.

Many in the room, including Shah, appeared stunned. 

Carifi thanked the crowd for their votes.

"We'll see what what happens tomorrow," she said.

Member Judy Foster, who represents Parsippany's District 1 with Valori, questioned the process that would give the council the power to fill its vacancy.

"Lou Valori got the majority of the votes, 52," Foster said, "and I would like to know why the committee can't just appoint him now."

"The law mandates that we are to provide the council with three names within 15 days of the vacancy," said President Green. "We are in Day 13. The council president recognized that the [committee's] meeting was going to be today, so in order to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible he is convening a special meeting that already has been posted to the public for [Tuesday] at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers, at which time the council will vote on which of the three names [chosen] will fill the unexpired term for John Cesaro."

Committee member and former Mayor Frank Priore stood and said that all four candidates were "excellent."

"Somebody has to be the winner and there is always someone who doesn't prevail," he told the crowd. 

Priore then turned to address a visibly deflated Shah. 

"You're a fine young man and you've got a great future ahead of you," he said. "Stay involved. When I was your age, I lost a county committee race by one vote. I stuck in there and eventually became municipal chairman at 25 years old, elected to council at 27 and mayor at 32.

"One little setback doesn't make a difference. People recognize you as a strong, eager Republican," Priore concluded to a huge round of applause.

Mayor Barberio also stood to praise Shah.

"I have had the opportunity to work with Milin Shah since 2007," he said. "When he was a Democrat, he ran against me [for Town Council]. I said to Milin Shah, 'You have the principles of a Republican. Why are you runnng as a Democrat?'

"You know what he said to me? Because he didn't think the Republicans would accept an Indian. That frustrated and bothered me," Barberio continued. "In 2009, he worked hard on my candidacy for mayor. He worked on a lot of individual campaigns in this town.

"You have a bright future, you really do, Milin."

The mayor added that he would save "what I'd really like to say" for the Tuesday special council meeting and would not elaborate further.

Valori thanked the people who gave him 52 votes.

"A lot of people here obviously supported my candidacy," he said. "But what is the process tomorrow night? Because a lot of people in this room would love to see me in the council spot."

The mayor stated that the township attorney will read the ordinance governing council vacancies. Then the three candidates will be voted on as the ordinance mandates: one at a time in alphabetical order, until one gains a majority of council votes.

"It doesn't matter how many votes you get [tonight]," Barberio said. "That's our ordinance, and that's what we have to follow."

Council President Brian Stanton noted that it is possible that the process could end immediately if the first candidate receives the necessary majority of three votes, meaning that Julie Carifi conceivably could win the spot before Valori's or Vigilante's names are presented.

"There is no tie," Stanton said. "If the first candidate is called and you get two yesses and two nos, that's your vote and we move to the next candidate."

Valori protested, saying that the process went against "common sense" and should be modified.

"Let's say somebody gets 60 votes and the other candidates get two votes and one vote [respectively]. The democracy has spoken. The Republican committee has spoken, and that's how it should be," he insisted. "I'm not trying to be a spoiler, but the reality is I got 52 votes. The committee's choice [should be upheld] to keep the party united. Just food for thought."

Valori then encouraged everyone present to attend the Tuesday council meeting "to show the importance of supporting your candidate."

parpardon June 26, 2012 at 10:02 AM
I cannot believe what I have read. Bob Crawford nominates a woman. Isn't this the guy who was a republican and lost in the primary then switched his party to Democrat after his lost in the republican primary. He switched to Democrat to run in the general election. Then he found out he couldn't run in the general. Then he switched back to republican. I am not done yet! He then proceeds to endorse the Democrat ticket of Wyka, Catanzaro and McCarthry! Boy, that's the kind of republican I want. What a farce!!!!
Michael Brancato June 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM
"Valori said he was running to represent the town as a "true Republican," adding that the Obama administration, Sen. Frank Lautenberg and what he labeled the "aggressive Democrat machine" are "ruining this country and this state."" I have to say this greatly bothers me. This type of divisive and combative attitude is destroying this country. We're all Americans and we're all supposed to be working toward the same goals. I do not want a person with this kind of attitude representing me. Apologies to Dr. Valori, and with all due respect to his years of service, but I cannot trust that a person who thinks this way is looking out for the best interests of the community. It frightens and disappoints me that after making these statements, he went on to receive the majority of the votes.
Robert J Iracane June 26, 2012 at 01:26 PM
As a member of the Parsippany Republican Committee, I must say that meetings of this group are generally slightly more painful than root canal without novacaine. Last nights meeting was an exception. There was spirited debate on a number of procedural issues, a contested election and an outcome that might have been disappointing to some. To those who are interested in serving, I commend you. To the 64 other members who endured the two plus hours I thank you for your service. There was one candidate who received 80% of the vote from the committee. I ask the Parsippany Council to take that into their decision tonight. To the executive board, get your act together. Take the time to have such elections run more professionally. You can't make it up as you go. I suggest you establish a committee to review the by-laws and make recommendations for improvement so we do not suffer a repeat of the disorganization of last night. To my good friend of almost forty years, Frank Priore, your comments to Milan Shah were excellent. Finally to Mayor Barberio, you said you would save your comments until Tuesday evening. I hope those comments will be ones of unity. It's time to move forward for a better Parsippany.
clyde donovan June 26, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Parsippany is all about corruption and shafting the people of the township.
steve revette June 26, 2012 at 04:19 PM
All 3 very tough choices and I deeply like all 3 individuals. Taborman as far as Mrs. Carifi being married to the Captain and being Paul's sister in law to me is not a big deal. You never know what bright ideas somebody might bring to the table. If it somebody you don't like that wins you will have the chance to vote them out of the next primary, however I'd think all 3 could do an exceptional job.
parpardon June 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Robert Iracane your comments are a joke. Here is a man who is the Chairman of the Board of Adjustments. I am not quite sure but I thought he worked for the Law Firm Garafaolo. He passes everthing Garafaolo brings forward to the board. Well if the executive board ran the meeting like you run the Board of Adjustment meeting then the committe does need to get its act together. You are rude as a Chairman. In fact when the Mountain Way project failed you were upset. It's like you have a vested interest. You should resign!!!!
Jim Vigilante June 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I want to "THANK" the Parsippany Republican Committee for voting for me as one of the 3 names to be submitted to the PTH Council. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend and address the committee because I am curently serving with the USAF Reserves at the Navy Medical Center at San Diego. I want to thank Councilman dePiero for his kind words in addressing the committee on my behalf. FYI: the medical center I am working at is known as the Walter Reed, Bethesda of the West. I have seen a couple of autopisies, a double amputation and other various medical procedure performed on our brave military members. I've seen more amputees than I can count and our Veterans taking their first steps with their new prostectics. So, if you take a minute and think about that, everything else other than family pales in comparison. Don't feel sorry for our Veterans that have sacrficed their limbs or have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life, but be humbled and proud that we can have the kind of meetings and debates that you folks had last night because of them. I truly believe in LOYALTY and democracy, that being said I hope the PTH Council listens to the majority of the PTH Republican Committee and votes Dr. (Lt. Col, Retired) Lou Valori in as the new council member. My only regret I have about Lou Valori being voted in tonight is that I will not be able to attend due to my service committment. Lou, I hope to be congratulating you tomorrow. Julie Carifi, I thank you for all your support.
Robert J Iracane June 26, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Taborman: If you have problems with the way I run Zoning Board meetings, why don't you identify yourself. Are you a coward? Spell checker might help also.
Frank Drebin June 26, 2012 at 07:20 PM
James Vigilante another joke of good ole boy rubber stamp.
Selene June 26, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Wow, what a bunch of losers...is this the best Parsippany can come up with? Sad. Oh and by the way...can you say nepotism?
Jim Vigilante June 26, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Thank you for your honesty. It is much appreciated.
Angelina June 28, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Parpodon..you're comments are useless. While they are very entertaining, and I genuinely enjoy the laughter, you are a coward, and no one really cares what you have to say.Not to be rude, but If you can't come forward with your name, yet you bash people left and right, you're just a coward making a fool of yourself. But i do have to thank you for the entertainment. I dont always disagree with you, but if ur going to bash people, dont hide behind a computer.

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