Councilman David Delle Donna, who announced his candidacy two months ago, will face Board of Education member Thomas Rizzi as well as "Guttenberg on the Hudson Civic Association" leader Ramon de la Cruz, which was somewhat of a surprise.
The 52-year-old Rizzi, a resident of the township for 24 years and a teacher in the Newark school system for 30 years, has formed what he called "a very professional ticket" that includes council candidates Dr. Isora Bosch, Ivan Dominguez and Leonard Litof.
De la Cruz will head the "Guttenberg on the Hudson" ticket that will include Mario Falato, Delores Loppe and Diana Perez-Medina running for council.
Rizzi, who was defeated by 13 votes in his bid to gain re-election to the Board of Education in Tuesday's board election, said that he has been dismayed by several activities of the current administration, headed by outgoing Mayor Robert Sabello, who has announced publicly that he is supporting Rizzi's candidacy and denouncing the candidacy of former political ally Delle Donna.
Delle Donna is expected to receive the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, which will give his ticket, featuring current council members Javier Inclan and John Schwartz, a substantial edge in the primary. Rizzi said that he has several reasons for running.
"Basically, there are things happening in the town that I don't particularly care for and has not been good for the community," Rizzi said. "There's the accounting system and the tax collection system. Some accounts are not being monitored properly and need to be corrected. We need to have a system of checks and balances and the system has to be streamlined to avoid confusion."
Rizzi said that if he were elected, he would like to see the township upgrade its computer service system.
Rizzi also believes that the current members of the Township Council spend too much money on cellular phone bills.
"The cost for the cell phone usage is very large, nearly $12,000 a year," Rizzi said. "One bill in January was over $1,000 for the month. Plus, we spent $9,000 in snow removal, simply because people didn't move their cars off Boulevard East. That was careless spending and shouldn't have happened. And the current administration wants to start a parking authority, which is just another level of bureaucracy and will cause further expenditures."
Rizzi, who ran for Township Council unsuccessfully in 1992, said that he didn't think his loss on Tuesday would have any negative effect on his mayoral candidacy.
"I don't feel like it was a damaging loss," Rizzi said. "It's a different election altogether. I ran alone, while others ran with teams, so that was a disadvantage right there. I can't see it having any effect on this election. I have a lot of respect for Bob Sabello and I'm encouraged by his support and I welcome it."
Rizzi was asked if he's fighting an uphill battle going against the establishment.
"I think I will be able to provide a formidable challenge," Rizzi said. "I may be at a disadvantage, but I think it can be done. I know Mr. de la Cruz's group didn't fare well in the board elections, so I'm not sure how effective they will be in the June primary. The people are telling me that they're ready for a change and the feeling that I get from hitting the streets tells me that I should be very encouraged.
Rizzi added, "I have a very professional ticket. Dr. Bosch has a Masters and a doctorate in education. Ivan Dominguez is an engineer and Leonard Litof is very well respected in the Galaxy. It's going to be a very interesting race, but we're affording the people of Guttenberg a chance for change." De la Cruz, an attorney, did not return repeated phone calls by press time.