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Warren Democrats propose Township Committee candidate forum

By DAVID POLAKIEWICZ Editor | Echoes-Sentinel | Sep 4, 2023

WARREN TWP. – Prior to an upcoming municipal election without incumbents on the ballot, voters may get to see all four candidates in one place discussing issues.

 

The four Township Committee candidates – two Republicans and two Democrats – may make a joint appearance together at a candidate forum.

 

Details have not been set, and the event is far from agreed upon, but the Warren Township Democratic organization has looked into enlisting the League of Women Voters (LWV) to moderate a candidate forum.

Patti O’Byrne, one of Warren Democratic Township Committee candidates, said she and running mate Christina Caracappa are reaching out to their Republican opponents Vanessa Kian and Shaun Fine, inviting them to participate and co-sponsor the proposed event.

O’Byrne is also chair of the Warren Township Democratic Municipal Committee.

 

“Both Christina and I feel strongly that Warren voters should have the opportunity to hear from all four candidates in a debate/candidate forum setting,” O’Byrne said in an Aug. 29 email.

 

The Republicans have not decided conclusively whether or not to participate. Neither Fine nor Kian responded to an email from the Echoes-Sentinel asking about the forum possibility.

 

The Republican candidates’ campaign manager, former Township Committeewoman Jolanta Maziarz, said the Fine-Kian campaign will begin scheduling outreach events in the coming weeks.

 

Maziarz added that more will be said about a potential candidate forum in the future.

 

Warren Township Republican Municipal Committee (RMC) Chairman Daniel Gallic said candidate debates/forums “are always a positive thing.” Gallic, who himself is a GOP candidate for Somerset County Commissioner, said he favors debates for both the Township Committee and commissioner candidates.

 

In the commissioner’s race, Gallic and running mate Don Lemma are attempting to unseat Democratic incumbents Doug Singleterry and Paul Drake.

 

But Gallic added that debates should be organized by a “disinterested third party.”

 

“I’m not sure I would agree to a debate that the Democrats organized any more than I would expect the Democrats to agree to a debate the Republicans organized without input from the opposing party,” Gallic said in an email on Saturday, Sept. 2.

 

Fine and Kian were the winners of a contentious GOP primary in June, defeating Township Committeemen George Lazo and Daniel Croson. That put the winners on the Republican line in the November general election, when they will face Democrats O’Byrne and Caracappa for a pair of three-year committee seats.

Gallic supported Lazo and Croson in the primary, who were the RMC-endorsed candidates.

 

The highly competitive GOP race saw Fine, the top vote-getter, and Croson, who finished fourth, separated by slightly more than 80 votes.

 

Gallic said the Warren Republican Party “backs the winners of the primary” and that a “unity meeting” was later held, attended by all four primary candidates and most of RMC members.

 

“A lively discussion was had, and there were several rounds of applause for the Vanessa and Shaun,” Gallic said.

Failed Attempt

If the two political parties are able to work cooperatively to hold a Warren Township forum or debate this fall, it will be a sharp reversal from an attempt six years ago.

 

In 2017, Democratic candidates Rick de Pinho and John Fahy were vying against Lazo and his Republican running mate Michael “Mick” Marion for two committee seats.

 

An attempt to stage a debate fell flat and the two sides could not even publicly agree on why it was unsuccessful.

 

That October, a date for a debate was secured at the Watchung Hills Elks Lodge, but the Elks later withdrew their offer to host the event.

 

The Democrats claimed the GOP incumbents ignored requests to participate. Then, it was alleged that Republican Deputy Mayor Victor Sordillo had contacted the Elks and had the debate cancelled, a claim which Sordillo denied.

 

The Lazo-Marion campaign asserted that an actual, sanctioned debate was never scheduled, nor was one needed, due to the Republicans accessibility to residents.

 

Somerset County Federation of Democratic Women Announces Endorsement of Patti and Christina

It is never easy to run for office.  The women who step up are part of an elite group of leaders and the 22 women below are no exception.   SCFDW is proud to support these women and their campaigns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warren Democrats denounce hate graffiti incident

Echoes-Sentinel | Jul 16, 2023

 

WARREN TWP. – Two Democratic Township Committee candidates have denounced the July 8 incident in which hate graffiti was found written on a playground near the Mountain Boulevard municipal complex.

 

The Democratic candidates – Christina Caracappa and Patti O’Byrne – released a statement on Thursday, July 13 condemning the vandalism. The offending graffiti, consisting of a swastika and racial slur against African Americans, has been scrubbed from the playground.

O’Byrne and Caracappa are opposed in the November general election by Republicans Shaun Fine and Vanessa Kian for two, three-year committee seats.

 

“A racially charged act of vandalism has brought unwanted attention to Warren in recent days,” O’Byrne and Caracappa wrote. “The incident involved anti-Semitic and racist vandalism at the municipal complex playground. We condemn the hate and horror the swastikas and racist images represent. We cannot ignore this act and allow hatred to go unchecked in our community.

“This incident reminds us no community, not even Warren, is immune to the rise in racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric that we are witnessing in our nation,” Caracappa and O’Byrne added. “We must combat this rise in anti-Semitism and racism with unequivocal condemnation.

 

“We appreciate the statement issued by the Township Committee which states the committee ‘will not tolerate hate targeted at any race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, heritage or cultural background’ and commits to discuss ‘methods to promote inclusion in our community...to educate our young adults,’ ” the Democratic candidates wrote.

 

“We encourage all to join in efforts to promote diversity and inclusion here in Warren, both in our schools and in the community at large,” the statement concludes.

Warren Democrats endorse Township Committee candidates

By DAVID POLAKIEWICZ Editor Echoes-Sentinel | Mar 22, 2023 Updated Apr 20, 2023

WARREN TWP. – Two candidates have been endorsed by the municipal Democratic organization to run for a pair of three-year seats on the Township Committee this fall.

 

Christina Caracappa of Christy Drive and Patti O’Byrne of Roberts Road were unanimously endorsed by the Warren Township Democratic Committee at its March 21 meeting.

 

The Democratic Committee comprises representatives from the township’s voting districts.

The Democratic endorsements bring the number of announced Township Committee candidates to four. Earlier this month, sitting Republican Committeemen George Lazo and Daniel Croson announced they had been endorsed to run in 2023 by the local GOP.

Prospective candidates have until 4 p.m., Monday, March 27 to file to run in their party’s June 6 primary.

 

Caracappa, a 25-year Warren resident, recently retired after an extensive career in technology. She looks to bring data analytical skills, mentoring, and financial experience to the governing body. She and her husband, Frank, raised two sons in town, both of whom attended Warren public schools, and have since moved on to successful collegiate and professional careers.

 

Caracappa said she believes now is the time to give back to her community.

“It is our paramount responsibility to provide leadership that prioritizes transparency,” she said. “Residents have the right to understand how tax breaks and development will impact our town’s future. We need to proactively attract small businesses as well as corporate partners who will add to our tax revenues.”

 

“By striving for a vibrant community, where everyone is informed and every voice is heard, Warren will continue to be the best place to raise a family,” Caracappa said.

 

O’Byrne, who currently serves as the Warren Township Democratic Committee’s chairwoman, is also a long-term resident, having moved to Warren 28 years ago.

 

A homemaker, former executive at Chubb Insurance Company, and local volunteer in various organizations, O’Byrne said her extensive management, team building, and financial planning skills will benefit Warren Township.

 

“There is no doubt that Warren residents are eager to see greater accountability in local government,” O’Byrne said. “Ms. Caracappa and I are committed to bringing the transparent, accessible leadership that our citizens deserve. We will involve residents in decisions that affect their neighbors and the community-at-large.”

 

“We will ensure that the Township Committee, planning and zoning meetings are accessible and that citizen input and engagement are encouraged and valued,” O’Byrne added. “We believe that collaboration and partnership, not secrecy and obfuscation, are essential for effective leadership.”

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