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By: Daniel Jackovino - Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD — Democrat Councilman Michael Venezia and Planning Board member Russell Mollica, a Republican, will be the two major-party candidates this coming November for mayor. No one filed for an independent candidacy.
In the June 4 primaries, Venezia, an Essex County Democrat Committee candidate, ran unopposed. However, his slate of council candidates did have opponents.
As certified by the Essex County Clerk’s Office, Venezia received 1,251 votes. Of his running mates, Joseph Lopez received 1,084 votes, Wartyna Davis, 1,074 and Carlos Pomares, 1,050.
The Democrats for Action slate for council seats had Kevin Lindahl with 175 votes, Russell Youngblood with 166 and Chris DiGuilio getting 156 votes.
Mollica, who ran under the Essex Republican Party Organization banner, received 611 votes. He was opposed by Richard Galioto, running as a Vietnam Veteran Fighting for Bloomfield candidate. Galioto got 120 votes.
Mollica’s unopposed running mates were Sharon Soon, with 679 votes, Carol Humphries with 672 and Richard Goworek getting 667.
Mollica said in the upcoming campaign, he will be a candidate for all residents — homeowners, renters and school children.
“Basically, we’re going to present the facts,” he said. “We need a change.”
He said his opponent doesn’t provide that change because Venezia has the support of local party which successfully backed the current mayor, Raymond McCarthy, for the previous four elections.
Mollica also took exception with Venezia’s contributions, which he said exceed $95,000.
“In my opinion, for a local town mayor, that’s an obscene amount,” he said, but acknowledged its also a freedom-of-speech issue.
Mollica said his concern with those contributions is that it represents too much outside-Bloomfield interests.
“Our residents aren’t making the decisions,” he said.
Mollica said he would help to pay for his own campaign and would also have fundraisers in town.
But Venezia said his contributions were proof that he was getting support from people at many levels. And regardless of where they were from, Venezia said if they didn’t meet his standards, they’d be dismissed just as they were in the past.
“Russ can criticize 12 years, but I’ve been on the opposite side of the mayor,” Venezia said. “I’m not Mayor McCarthy. The election is about who is going to be the best mayor for the next three years.
But Mollica said Venezia only opposed the mayor with the election coming.
“I run businesses,” Mollica said. “He’s basically been a government employee.”
But Mollica acknowledge there was nothing wrong with being a government employee.
“Our armed services are government employees,” he said. “But my background will make a difference.”
He and Venezia would start off as different types of mayors and the difference would be reflected in the township administrator.
Mollica said the first thing he’d have a forensic audit of each township department.
And he would have the township administrator create a tallying system to rate all potential vendors for Bloomfield services. On this, a final decision would be made.
Venezia said he’d go through the budget line by line. “That’s why we’ve hired a professional administrator for the first time in years,” he said.