PARSIPPANY — In a contentious election in Parsippany, Mayor James Barberio emerged as the victor and was elected as the GOP municipal chairman, defeating Board of Education President Susy Golderer by a narrow margin of four votes, with a final tally of 30-26. The intense nature of the election raises the possibility of the matter being taken back to the Superior Court.
Interestingly, the county committee members were not allowed to cast their votes anonymously, deviating from the usual practice.
Several committee members expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of adherence to “Robert’s Rules of Order” during the proceedings. Attorney Alan Zankin, who was present, did not permit any motions to be heard, further fueling their discontent.
Attorney Peter King expressed his surprise and disappointment at being denied entry to the meeting despite representing Susy Golderer, while Attorney Alan Zakin was granted access. He also raised concerns about the active participation of a uniformed Parsippany Police Officer in the election, questioning who authorized and funded the officer’s presence, particularly considering the mayor’s involvement. King further wondered if taxpayer money was utilized to pay for the officer’s involvement.
Barberio takes over the position from Dee dePierro, who assumed the role in July 2022 but did not seek to continue in the position. dePierro succeeded Louis Valori after his resignation. However, Judge Stuart Minkowitz’s recent ruling mandated the removal of twelve Republican county committee members appointed by dePierro due to improper procedures. Consequently, these members were not eligible to participate in the election.
Barberio claimed that he extended an offer to Golderer for the position of Vice-Chair, but Golderer refuted his statement and denied that such an offer had been made.
John Beehler, who had lost his county committee bid in the June 6 primary, was allowed to vote, but the legalities of his voting are in question. Joseph Beyroutey emerged victorious over Beehler, securing a ten-vote lead with a final count of 57-47, during the election. Beyroutey had relocated to another district within Parsippany, resulting in Beehler, the second-place finisher, being granted the seat. If the winner of an election fails to meet the qualifying requirements, the seat is deemed vacant, and the election does not automatically go to the runner-up. An example highlighting this is Republican Ana Pizutelli, who, in the heavily-Democratic 28th district, would have been the assemblywoman from 2006 to 2008. Pizutelli had lost the general election by over 20,000 votes to incumbent Donald Tucker (D-Newark), who unfortunately passed away three weeks before taking office. However, in this scenario, the 28th district Democrats chose a successor instead of awarding the seat to the runner-up.
Susy Golderer said “I was so proud of Justin Musella who is a young ambitious and hard-working politician. He was adamant about running for the chair position himself and after many conversations between us, he graciously accepted that in fact, it would be a conflict of interest. The possibility that his chair appointment would be misconstrued.”
State Senator Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville), Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville), and Morris County GOP Chair Laura Marie Ali threw their support behind Golderer. Notably, Barberio had previously endorsed primary opponents against Pennacchio and Bergen earlier this year, indicating a divided front within the party.
Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) made an effort to broker an agreement that would have installed Barberio as the chairman and Golderer as the vice chair, but it did not come to fruition.
When Barberio took the new position, he immediately announced his team. Vice-Chair, Dee dePierro; Corresponding Secretary, Angela Stanton; Recording Secretary, Sandra Neglia; Parliamentary, Robert Quinn; Treasurer, John Beehler and Sargent of Arms, Frank Neglia.
“I firmly believe that individuals aspiring to run for a political position should not hold leadership positions within the committee responsible for supporting their own candidacy,” said Susy Golderer.
In the June 6 election, a total of 63 individuals were elected to the committee, leaving 15 seats vacant. On June 14, the Chair appointed 12 people, which resulted in a lawsuit being filed in the Morris County Superior Court.
Once the election was called, and Barberio became the new Chairman, the twelve appointees were then appointed to the county committee positions. (Click here to read related articles).
“There is no better community of people anywhere else than here in Parsippany and I’m beyond thankful for the privilege of leading this amazing Committee,” said Mayor James R. Barberio. “Now we are focused on strengthening and uniting the party and I look forward to working with all Committee members to build a party that puts Parsippany first for Parsippany and by Parsippany.”
Golderer continued “Many committee members said they wanted to vote for me, but because there was no committee vote allowed for the rules which mandated only a voice vote we could not vote on a private vote and voter anonymity was not protected. Some members were afraid of retaliation from the other side. The fact that there are sides is sad enough, but to be afraid to vote your conscience and have your own opinion because of retaliation is heartbreaking.”
“I felt like I was in a communist country where citizens, in this case the membership had no rights. A democratic vote was denied, and Robert’s Rules were not followed or allowed during the meeting.We were dictated to, and my designated counselor was not allowed to be present during the voting process.Regardless of who he was. I have a right to legal representation.”
“I don’t mind losing because everyone has a right to their vote and there is always a winner and loser in a race and competition is good, but to have lost in a rigged election is proof that the Republican Party in our town needs a big shake-up. In Parsippany, the registered democrats now outnumber us by 800 voters just in the last two years,” continued Golderer.
“The rules were introduced without a formal vote by the membership, and motions were rejected by both the chair and the committee’s legal representative, despite not being elected for their positions. The events of the previous night involved instances of voter intimidation, aggressive behavior, and authoritarian decision-making. Such actions do not contribute to the goal of unifying the party, in my opinion,” said Susy Golderer.
Committee Member Robert Peluso’s vote in favor of Barberio carried an intriguing dynamic. Peluso, who has already filed his ELEC report to run for Mayor in 2025 against Barberio, opted to support Barberio in the election. Similarly, Peluso’s wife, Ildiko, followed suit and cast her vote in favor of Barberio as well.
This decision by Peluso is notable considering that Barberio did not endorse him during the recent primary when Peluso was vying for a seat in the Assembly. Instead, Barberio threw his support behind Jay Webber and BettyLou DeCroce.
Barberio and Peluso have a history of electoral competition. In the 2017 GOP primary, Peluso challenged Barberio for the mayoral seat, and Barberio narrowly prevailed, winning by a margin of approximately 375 votes out of more than 5,100 votes cast.
Both the newly elected officers and the county committee members will hold their positions until the primary election in 2025.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated Saturday, July 8 at 10:00 a.m.
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, Lt. Governor Division 9 Kiwanis Club of NJ, and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
Parsippany Focus is a digital news organization that provides news coverage of Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey. The organization was founded in 1989 by Frank Cahill, who currently owns and operates the organization. Parsippany Focus covers local news, events, and community issues, and their content is primarily distributed through their website and social media channels. The organization has been serving as a trusted source of news and information for the Parsippany-Troy Hills community for over 30 years.
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