No petitions filed for Democrats in Township Council race

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  • Former Democratic Candidate Chris Garcia explains why he decided to withdraw from this year's Township Council race to fellow party members during a meeting Tuesday night. charles kim photo

  • Former Democratic Candidate Chris Garcia.

By Charles Kim

WEST MILFORD – Local Democrats will have to find another way to get candidates on the ballot for this year’s Township Council race.

No council candidate petitions were filed for that party by Monday’s deadline.

“It’s not encouraging,” Democratic Committee Co-Chair CarlLa Horton said Tuesday.

According to the Township Clerk’s Office, there are two Republican slates with four candidates filing petitions for the two open seats that each serve three-year terms.

For the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization, Inc., challengers Kevin Goodsir and Warren Gross each filed their petitions by the deadline Monday.

Republicans Working together candidates incumbent Township Councilman Peter McGuinness and challenger Steven Castronova also filed their petitions by the deadline, setting up the June Republican primary.

For the office of mayor, a four-year term, Mayor Michele Dale filed her petition for the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization along with incumbent Township Councilman Lou Signorino for the Republicans Working Together slate.

Democrat Bob Nicholson submitted his petition for the Passaic County Democratic Organization, Inc. in that race.

Dale and Signorino will battle for the Republican nomination in the June primary election to face Nicholson in November.

Democrats met Tuesday night at Jessie’s Country Kettle and discussed options to get candidates on the ballot for the November election.

Former council and mayoral candidate Chris Garcia and Ryan Walter both screened for the two council spots, but both eventually withdrew from the race.

Garcia, who previously ran for council in 2017 and for mayor last year, attended Tuesday night’s gathering and apologized for stepping down from the race.

“When Ryan chose not to move forward (as a candidate), I had to make a decision,” Garcia said. “I chose not to move forward.”

Garcia said that he went through the screening process with an understanding that if he ran again, he would not run alone on the ticket.

He said he was excited to have Walters as a running mate and that Walters was “an excellent candidate” for the party.

Shortly after the screening, and the approval of the committee to run, Walters decided to withdraw from the race, Garcia said.

After discussing the situation with Walters, Garcia said he also decided not to run.

“It was a very tough decision because I feel that I let people down,” Garcia said. “It’s a very tough grind and is draining. I struggled with (the decision).”

Garcia said that both he and Walters have young children to consider and that he has recently become self-employed which occupies a great deal of his time and energy.

Following his statement, party members discussed how to move forward and what options were available to get candidates on the ballot for the eventual November race.

Horton said that the party would either have to get two candidates to file and run as independents or to mount a write-in campaign during the primary election.

The filing deadline for independent candidates is the same day as the primary election, party officials said.

Prior to giving his statement during the meeting, Garcia said that he did not consider the possibility of running as an independent in the race, but would not rule that possibility out at this point.

Meanwhile, party officials still want to get the word out to the community that they are willing to screen and support any Democrats that want to step up and run for the seats.

Horton said anyone interested could contact her.

Mayoral Candidate Nicholson told Garcia that he shouldn’t feel badly about his decision and that there are some 3,000 Democrats in the township that could step up to run so that it’s not always the same people campaigning.

“If anyone is to blame (for this situation) it’s the Democrats for not stepping up (to run),” Nicholson said. “it’s time to change, (other) people have to do their share.”

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