District 38 Primary Election Preview
Democrats run unopposed but Republican side has 5 vying for two positions on the ballot for assembly seat and 2 compete for state senate seat.
Editor's note: This article has been updated as an earlier version did not include complete information regarding the Republican state senate race.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday to choose which candidates they want to represent their respective parties in November for the 38th legislative district.
Democrat incumbent State Senator Robert Gordon of Fair Lawn seeks re-election and runs unopposed on the Democratic ticket. Republican John Driscoll of Paramus, current Bergen County Freeholder chairman, and Kenneth DelVecchio compete for the right to challenge Gordon for the state senate seat in November. Michael Agosta was previously also in the race but dropped out last month.
For the two assembly seats, Democrat incumbent Connie Terranova Wagner, a Paramus resident, seeks re-election. Timothy Eustace, mayor of Maywood seeks election to the state assembly for the first time.
On the Republican ticket five candidates seek the two positions on the ballot for assembly seats in November. Richard S. Goldberg of Hawthorne and Fernando A. Alonso of Oradell compete against Joseph J. Gant and Scott A. Verrone, both of Hawthorne. Wojciech Siemaskiewicz of Bergenfield is also in the Republican race for assembly seat. The winners will face off against Wagner and Eustace in November.
Below are profiles on each candidate. They are listed by party in alphabetical order. Attempts to reach Republican candidates Joseph Gant and Scott Verrone were not successful. Kenneth DelVecchio also could not be reached. State Senate
Bob Gordon, 60, seeks another term in the Senate. He currently serves on three Senate committees as Vice Chair of the Environment and Energy Committee, Vice Chair of the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee and a member of the Health, Human Services and Senior Services Committee.
During his time in the Senate he has been a prime sponsor of legislation to increase transparency and accountability in major public-private redevelopment projects. He also advanced legislation that curbs abuses by rogue tow truck drivers, helps homeowners remove underground oil storage tanks, protects vulnerable adults from abuse, improves the reporting of quality and financial data by ambulatory surgery centers, strengthens the enforcement of laws regulating off-road vehicles, and requires prompt notification of parents when contaminates are found in schools.
He also has promoted shared services among municipalities and has worked to improve health insurance coverage for substance abuse and mental health disorders.
John Driscoll, 46, of Paramus has been a Bergen County Freeholder since 2010 and currently serves as chairman, runs unopposed for the state Senate seat on the Republican ticket.
Among the top issues Driscoll said he will address are property taxes which he said he wants to work with the Governor to help “hold the line on property taxes by creating responsible budgets as we have done here in Bergen County.” He cited that this year, the first budget the county has been under Republican majority, the Freeholder team reduced the overall budget by $760,000, the first reduction since 2003.
His other main concern is flooding in which he will work with state and federal agencies to “not only ‘study’ the problems but actually solve the issues that lead to floods.” As Chairman of the Bergen County Freeholders he is in the process of creating the first Flood Advisory Board to address this in the county.
Driscoll wants to work with municipalities to encourage shared services and recognizes that it should be up to municipalities themselves to decide on what will work best and will not work. Decisions towards shared services should not come from Trenton and such decisions should never be forced upon a community as they will be the ones living with the agreements and making it work, he said.
Dr. Timothy Eustace, 54, Mayor of Maywood has been in private practice as a chiropractor for 25 years. Eustace has served as a councilman in the borough for 10 years and has been mayor for four years. He has also served as president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce for 20 years.
He serves on the Bergen County Special Services Board of Education and is a member of the Alumni Advisory Board, Theoretical and Applied Sciences at Ramapo College. He cites taxes, jobs and environment as his top reasons for running.
Eustace earned his degrees from Ramapo College and Penn College of Straight Chiropractic.
Connie Wagner, 62, of Paramus, a retired educator, has been serving on the state assembly since 2008. When asked what her top issues for seeking re-election are, Wagner stated she wants to continue to work towards reducing unfunded state mandates and streamlining government to make it less costly and more efficient. She said she will also work continue to protect the health of children, seniors and veterans and will bring a sense of community to all she does.
Fernando A. Alonso, 53, of Oradell, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, seeks a spot on the Republican ticket for state assembly. He has previously been a nominee for the state senate in District 33 back in 1993 representing the Hudson County Republican Party. The following year he was nominated as the Hudson County Republican Party candidate for the House of Representatives in District 13. Alonso has also served as a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee on Governor Christie Whitman’s Transition Team, he said.
Alonso said he is an advocate for fair school funding and is a strong believer in educating children. He piloted a program at FDU where he is a professor that is designed to help traditional age Latino students gain access to college. The program, which he calls Latino Promise, to reflect what he calls the grave issue of poor college graduation results facing the Latino community, admits students with low GPAs and SATs under an associate of arts degree. He said the program is anchored with a leadership component to develop future leaders of the state and country.
As for property taxes, Alonso believes that New Jersey must end the careless property tax increases that so often occur and plans to fight to making living affordable again for state residents. He said he is behind the Governor’s agenda and will continue to do so if elected to office.
Richard Goldberg, 57, who has been Mayor of Hawthorne for the past three years, seeks a seat on the state assembly. Prior to serving as Mayor, Goldberg was on the Hawthorne council for 11 years prior. During this time he served as council president for seven years and two years as vice president. Professionally he is in the precious metals business and earned his degrees in business and economics from LaSalle College.
Some of the issues that Goldberg wants to address are school funding, property tax relief and also says he supports Governor Christie’s agenda and “will take the necessary steps to help accomplish his goals.”
As for school funding, Goldberg said he strongly believes that funding for children with special educational needs should move with the child when and if he or she changes districts. He said funding should not depend on the availability of special ed funding in that district.
He said New Jersey has one of the highest property taxes national which is beginning to drive people away. Goldberg says NJ residents need to be given the chance to breathe during these tough economic times and “we need to start making New Jersey attractive again for homeowners.”
Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz, 53, of Bergenfield, originally from Poland, is running for a state assembly seat on the Republican slate. Professionally he was worked at the New York Public Library since 1987 and is a member of Local 1930, District 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)(AFL-CIO). Siemaszkiewicz holds a masters degree in political science from Columbia University and a master of library science from Queens College.
He is a member and past-president of the Bergenfield Republican Club is the county committee member for the Bergen County Republican Organization and is the municipal vice-chairman in Bergenfield.
In both 2007 and 2009 he won the state assembly primary for District 37 and also was a candidate for the Bergenfield council in 2010. He serves as the national director for the Polish American Congress, northern New Jersey division. Siemaszkiewicz is also vice president of the Board of Directors of the Polish American Republican Caucus in New Jersey.
Siemaszkiewicz said he wants reform property taxes, reduce income taxes and reform school funding. He has also pledged to restore fiscally responsible government in Trenton. He said that although Governor Christie has made “considerable progress” on some of these issues he believes that the Democratically-controlled state assembly has failed voters of the New Jersey and has not made progress on the issues he has raised since his 2007 campaign.
District 38 includes Bergenfield, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Hasbrouck Heights, Hawthorne (Passaic County), Lodi, Maywood, New Milford, Oradell, Paramus, River Edge, Rochelle Park and Saddle Brook.