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Legislative District 39

Michael Daigle | October 19, 2011

The 39th may be almost equally divided between Republican and Democratic voters, but in the primaries the GOP proved to be a powerhouse.

The lesson of the primary in the 39th is that strong candidates get votes.

In a district where registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by only about 7,000 voters, the veteran incumbents got thousands more votes than their Democratic counterparts.

Republican Sen. Gerald Cardinale receved 3,321 votes in the GOP primary, while his November Democratic opponent Lorraine Waldes received 119 votes, none of which came from the Passaic County portion of the district.

Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Robert Schroeder received 3,205 votes in the primary, while Democrats Anthony Iannarelli got 109 votes and Michael McCarthy received 103. Again, neither Democrat got any votes from Passaic County.

Rounding out the field next month for the Republicans is Holly Schepisi, who is replacing Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk, who chose not to run after securing her nomintion in the primary. Schepisi is the municipal attorney in River Vale, and the daughter of longtime Bergen Republican Committee Chairman John Schepisi.

Independent candidate Clinton Bosca is also on the Nov. 8 Assembly ballot.

The 39th borders New York State in northern Bergen and Passaic counties. In the spring redistricting, the district was shifted north and west, away from the Paterson-Paramas hub.

Seeking another term in the Senate, Cardinale is the Republican dean of the upper house. He is completing his third decade in the Senate and is the second-longest serving senator after Richard Codey.

He has supported the key Republican positions on tax breaks for the wealthy, level school aid for all districts, and more shared services to help reduce property taxes. Cardinale also has filed legislation to require public schools to read aloud the Declaration of Independence each morning and legislation to end the Urban Enterprise Zone program.

Waldes is the president of the River Vale Board of Education. This year, she led the successful effort to obtain concessions in salaries and benefits from school distict unions to keep the district's annual budget below the state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.

Schroeder is nearing the end of his first term in the Assembly, after serving on the Washington Township Council from 1991 to 2010. He is sponsoring legislation that would allow busineses with up to 50 employees to join health insurance alliances to help reduce their costs, a bill that would reduce the payment made by businesses to the state's unemployment fund, and a measure to allow Bergen County and Rockand County, NY, to work jointly to address flooding issues.

McCarthy operates a family insurance agency, is a former assistant to the President of the Senate, and has previously run unsuccessfully for both the state Senate and Assembly.

Iannarelli, an attorney, has said he would work to lower property taxes, end the pay-to-play system in New Jersey, and support efforts to strengthen the midddle class.

Michael Daigle is a freelance writer and journalist from Phillipsburg. He has worked for newspapers in Massachusetts, Maine, and for the past 20 years, in New Jersey. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting on housing policy, politics, environmental issues and as a columnist.

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