Delle Donna, running mates win Guttenberg primary in rout If there's no opposition in November, they stand to serve four-year terms
by Jim Hague
Jun 21, 2005 | 879 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna essentially won his third term as mayor of the town with a resounding 2-to-1 victory in last Tuesday's Democratic municipal primary - and now will more than likely get the next four years to serve as a reward, rather than just the two years that elected officials in the town used to receive.

Unless there is some sort of legal opposition to it, a bill signed into law by Acting Gov. Richard Codey last Monday gave elected officials in New Jersey four-year terms instead of two. Thus, Delle Donna's victory over rival Tom Rizzi in the mayoral primary will give the mayor a four-year term this time.

In fact, at Delle Donna's victory party late Tuesday night at the Green Kitchen in Guttenberg, supporters were chanting, "Four more years," which is usually reserved for incumbent presidents getting re-elected.

"All indications are that the new bill signed by Gov. Codey counts for this election," said Delle Donna, who easily defeated Rizzi by 732 votes (63.7 percent) to 416 (36.2 percent). "If that's the case, then it is for four more years."

Winning the Democratic municipal primary is usually good enough to guarantee a victory in the general election in November, considering a Republican candidate has not been elected as mayor in Guttenberg in almost 60 years.

But this time, it is a more likely victory for Delle Donna and his incumbent running mates, namely Gerald Drasheff, Adela Martinez and Efrain Velez, considering that there wasn't a GOP ticket listed on the primary ballot and no independent candidate filed a petition to the Hudson County Clerk by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

So that means Delle Donna and his council mates will run unopposed on November's general ballot.

"Regardless of not having opposition, I vow to work hard for Jon Corzine's campaign and hope that he gets elected as governor," Delle Donna said.

The municipal primary didn't go off without controversy. Just a few days before the primary was to take place, two complaints were filed in Hudson County Superior Court, claiming that prospective voters were forced to vote for the Delle Donna ticket by campaign workers on absentee ballots.

The complaints called for all absentee ballots to be impounded in the election, but Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli threw out the complaints on Monday, a day before the election, saying there was no sufficient evidence of any wrongdoing in the absentee ballot process and there was not enough time given to serve Delle Donna and his campaign workers with the allegations.

"Why should I worry about something like that?" Delle Donna said. "They claim that there was some impropriety, but the judge decided that there was not. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. We weren't even served. I had an attorney present, because I heard through the grapevine that this was happening. But in the end, it's a baseless charge. There are so many allegations in every single election and they charge that we cheat to win. But the people of Guttenberg know that when they continue to make allegations about us, the people continue to elect us. Once again, the people of Guttenberg have chosen positive, honest leadership over threats of lawsuits."

However, Rizzi, who lost in his bid to unseat Delle Donna for a third straight time, maintains that there is something to the complaints and the allegations.

"I feel that they are very valid complaints," Rizzi said. "The case is still under investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office. These were bonafide affidavits signed, attesting that this did happen. So we have to see what happens."

Delle Donna was pleased with the results, regardless of the absentee ballot controversy.

"I'm ecstatic," Delle Donna said. "The people of Guttenberg have once again showed that they are happy with the work that our administration is doing. They genuinely support us. This is the third time I've been elected and they are showing to me that they appreciate good honest hard work and leadership."

Delle Donna said that he tried to run a positive campaign and was faced with the litany of allegations that were fired off by his opponent.

"He was so negative with everything," Delle Donna said. "He's accused me of everything. The only thing he didn't accuse me of was being on the grassy knoll. I tell you to vote for me. He tells you to vote for him because I'm terrible. If you believe everything he writes about, then why would anyone want to live here? The people have shown their faith in me and my administration. They truly like the work we've done and what we've been accomplishing."

Running mates

All of Delle Donna's running mates also won in convincing fashion, with Martinez (700 votes), Velez (680) and Drasheff (658) gaining more votes than Rizzi ticket members Louis Lopez (398), Mayra Villamarzo (386) and Mario Falato (380).

"I put myself out there and said, 'If you like what we've been doing, vote for us,' " Delle Donna said. "Not everyone did, but a good majority did."

Rizzi was once again humble in defeat.

"I knew we were in for a fight," Rizzi said. "They had a lot of support from the Hudson County Democratic Organization [HCDO], pulling the party line. We didn't go in with our eyes closed. We knew that it's hard to beat an incumbent with that kind of support. I'm not disheartened by the results. We're still going to be here to serve the people."

Rizzi was asked about the new state law about four-year terms.

"It's the state's prerogative and if they say so, then I guess we have to live with it," Rizzi said. "There's not much we can do. I think we all looked at this realistically and realized that we were in for a fight. I want to thank my volunteers for fighting the party line. If not for them, we wouldn't have been able to continue as a cohesive group."
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet