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Council Seats 1st Democrat in 26 Years

Jonathan Nelson said local government isn't the solution to Parsippany's problems, its citizens working together is.

Jonathan Nelson is the Parsippany Town Council's newest member. 

The 44-year-old Democrat, the first from his party to be elected to the council in nearly three decades, was sworn in during a brief ceremony at the start of the council's Tuesday night meeting.

"As a Democrat, I feel like I'm facing a firing squad," joked state Sen. and former Gov. Richard Codey, as he prepared to administer the oath of office to Nelson. Then he offered the new councilman a piece of advice.

"Your job is to be a watchdog," Codey said. "But nobody likes a dog that barks all night. Work with them when they're right, but speak up when they are wrong."

With that, the oath was read and repeated, and an enthusiastic round of applause filled Council Chambers. Then Councilman Nelson shared a few words.

First, he singled out two people for special thanks: former Mayors Marceil "Mimi" Letts and Frank B. Priore.

Nelson then promised to be a legislator who would represent all the people of Parsippany.

He conceded that there could be differences of opinion between himself and his fellow council members.

"I used an old Ed Koch statement when I was campaigning," he said. "If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12, get psychiatric help."

He asserted that residents should not expect government to do things for them. Instead, he said that people working together with leaders could solve the problems that face Parsippany.

"Government isn't the solution," Nelson said. "Fifty thousand people working together is."

Nelson said a lot of important issues need to be addressed in the township and he pledged to work hard to stand up for the residents while working with his new council colleagues.

On Nov. 6, Nelson defeated Republican nominee Judy Tiedemann to fill the one-year unexpired term. The vote finally was certified by Morris County Clerk Joan Bramhall Monday morning, allowing the swearing in to proceed as planned.

Hank Heller November 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Congratulations, Jonathan. You worked hard and seemed sincere, Now go deliver on your promise and your potential for change and benefit to the people of Parsippany. Gov. Codey's advice was good. Put it to work. Godspeed!
Kathy Izzo November 21, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Congratulations...............It is about time we had a change
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Right off the bat, Nelson makes it appear as though he doesn't have a clue: Nelson thanks Frank Priore. Ex-Parsippany mayor Frank Priore got convicted on federal corruption charges. He's a federal felon. He ripped off the taxpayers of Parsippany. 2) Then he thanks Mimi Lett's, a former Parsippany mayor, who expanded government, raised taxes and encourged excessive development.
g November 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Nelson thanks Frank Priore. Ex-Parsippany mayor Frank Priore Priore, mayor for 12 years, was convicted in March 1994 of 20 counts of mail fraud, bribery, extortion, and obstruction of justice. He is serving a five-year sentence in a Schuylkill County, Pa., prison. The ex-mayor, who coined the slogan "Pride of Parsippany," was accused in December 1992 of receiving $5,100 in improper payments from the township dental plan to pay for himself, his daughter, and his girlfriend. What did he thank him for? TDhat he is a democrat or he is a convicted criminal? Or is there any difference?
sweet4utwo November 21, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Even though the ex-mayors weren't necessarily the best examples of politics, it is still his duty to thank them.
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Maybe Nelson admires Priore for ripping off the people of Parippany.
Mike P November 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I was never a fan of Priore, but come on, he also thanked everyone in the room including Barberio and Ferrara.
joe raich November 21, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I was also in attendance. Councilman Jonathan Nwelson projects hope for government transparency. His tenure can define what's in proposed ordinances, what happens behind the scenes, and fight for residents who desperately need a break from overwhelming taxation and one sided government.
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I guess the problem is that Priore must have been in the room, based on your statements. The fact that Priore is not treated asbad news, leads me to believe there's still a problem.
Natalie Davis (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Frank Priore is not a Democrat. And he is not serving anything; his debt was paid, as defined by law, more than a decade ago.
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Natalie, for the sake of discussion, if a sex offender is released from the New Jersey Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel after having served their full sentence, that person's debt would also be paid to society. Would you hire that person to babysit your kids?
Natalie Davis (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Clyde Donovan, this is not about my opinion. I was just stating what is according to law.
Bob Crawford November 21, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Enough with the cheap shots at Mr Priore. It was determined a number of years ago in a court of law that Mr. Priore made a mistake and he has subsequently paid his debt to society for having made that mistake and moved on. It is time for the cheap shot artists to do the same. By the way if you ask many of the long time residents who lived in Parsippany when Mr. Priore was the Mayor they will tell you that he was a knowledgeable, articulate, energetic, and responsive Mayor. All traits that we can only hope every Mayor of Parsippany would be able to demonstrate on an every day basis.
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I understand. It's my opinion that government workers and elected officials shoud not associate with someone who was a mayor and, while in office, convicted of municipal corruption. It sends a message to the people of Parsippany that, maybe, nothing has changed.
clyde donovan November 21, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Legitimate opinions are not "cheap shots," as you say. It sounds to me like you're a Priore "boot licker."
joe raich November 21, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Clyde you should love Councilman Jonathan Nelson's foresight to engage two opposing Parsippany mayors in his succesful campaign. Reread my initial comment.Nelson will be a breath of fresh air in this town...
g November 21, 2012 at 08:10 PM
To refute the past history of Priore's character, Bob Crawford stated that Priore was a knowledgeable, articulate, energetic, and responsive Mayor John Randolph once said, He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight
Mike P November 21, 2012 at 08:49 PM
All Mr. Nelson did was thank two former mayors for appearing
Harland November 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Mr Crawford, The fact that you would go out of your way to defend a convicted criminal speaks volumes about YOUR character.
g November 21, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Unfortunately, evil in the government is like a worm in a plant
Ed Dantes November 22, 2012 at 12:56 AM
G, Lay off beating the Republican drum from a while. You're already out to bash Mr. Nelson, whom has yet to vote on an issue. I do find it odd that a partisan supporter such as yourself wasn't aware that Former Mayor Priore was a Republican, in fact he was the party poster boy in the late 80's and 90's. Why the attacks on Mr. Nelson already? Councilman dePeierro has been on the council since the "rubber stamp everything Frank wants days", Mayor Barberio was pictured celebrating "taking back Parsippany" hand in hand with Mr. Priore, in addition to the BOE members that were Priore staffers and supporters. Seems to me you are attacking the wrong people here!
Mike P November 22, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Again, the man thanked the former governor and state senator, the current mayor and council, and the two former mayors who were in attendance. Are we to assume that Mayor Barberio is a big supporter of Councilman Nelson now and vice versa? I'm sure that if Mrs. Tiedemann had been there, Mr. Nelson would have thanked her too.
Hank Heller November 22, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Natalie, I have seen a lot of cheap, cowardly shots on Patch, but I think this particular thread is as disgusting a line as I have ever read! I think that Patch is a valuable resource but this line has me thinking that I am embarrassed to have my name and thoughts esconced here. This is awful. I would be proud to have coffee with either former Mayor Priore or Mayor Letts at the Spa at any time. Each worked hard for Parsippany in their time. Frank Priore was a good Mayor and made a serious and stupid mistake. He paid for his mistake, did not profit from his error (quite the opposite, in fact) and does not deserve such comment from people who don't have the guts nor character to sign their real names to their attacks. "g" and Clyde need to think about the meaning of Thanksgiving instead of hiding behind cowardly invective. If ever either of you have ever spoken to Mrs. Letts or Mr. Priore, I think you might have a different opinion. Each tried hard to improve Parsippany.
Todd M. Finchler November 22, 2012 at 03:46 AM
This article was written about our new Councilman - not about former mayors. Before people malign him based on his expression of gratitude at a swearing in, perhaps they can sit back, see what he says, see how he votes and then form their opinions. Having had the pleasure of knowing Jonathan for over 30 years - from our days at Central and PHS - to summer camp - to getting reacquainted as adults - I am confident that he is capable of associating with people while maintaining his own moral compass.
Selene November 22, 2012 at 03:56 AM
Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Carol M. November 22, 2012 at 12:39 PM
I agree with Mr Crawford here. Are posters really hung up on something that happened 30 or so years ago; my goodness move on with your lives. Mr Nelson is gracious in recognizing all those who are working in their own capacity to continue to try and do good for our community and I applaud him for that. He's not offering anyone a job at Town Hall, he's simply saying thank you. I would like to think that many could learn from Mr Nelson's example, blind to partisan gratitude which will hopefully help lead to the much needed blind to partisan solutions
Sick of the trolls November 22, 2012 at 01:20 PM
No, Clyde, we will not hire you to babysit our kids. Get off it. On a realistic note, former Mayor Priore is still a resident of Parsippany, and still active politically. Nelson thanking him probably has something to do with that. Why don't you settle down "Clyde", if that's your real name.
ANGELA November 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM
IT SEEMS INFANTILE TO ME THAT MR. NELSON IS BEING MALIGNED REGARDING WHO HE THANKED - LET'S GIVE HIM A CHANCE - AT LEASE MR. PRIORE PAID HIS DEBT - I AM STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHY JOHN MONTEFUSCO HAS STILL NOT BEEN SENTENCED 4 YRS. AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LAW SUIT THE TOWN WAS SUPPOSED TO INITIATE AGAINST HIM.....MAYBE HE IS CONNECTED??????
Michael Brancato November 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Angela, WHY ARE YOU YELLING? Trust me, we can all hear you. Common Internet courtesy is to not type in all caps, it's interpreted as yelling. Usually, it identifies one as a nutbag to be ignored. Just FYI. (That's an acronym, not yelling.)
Dan Grant November 25, 2012 at 06:45 PM
A hearty congratulations to Mr. Nelson, Politically he has done what no other Democrat has done in a very long time. As a fellow Democrat from a neighboring town I can tell him that being a lone Democrat on an otherwise all Republican body has it's rewards. Truth be told most of the issues faced at the local level are not partisan at all. I am sure he already knows that. It is more about public service and giving transparency to issues the public may not otherwise have. PS. I had a meeting with former Mayor Priore in my first month of office in 1990 over sewer issues between Montville and Parsippany. He was gracious in explaining the issues from Parsippany's side. From a non-partisan perspective he was a very effective Mayor and I would remind the people here, very popular, He won his last election while going through the Legal System so I guess the Majority of voters in Parsippany felt the same.

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