Greene, 3 newcomers win

Republican Party support
Richard Greene to face
Roman Sohor in
GOP mayoral primary

By sue m. morgan
Staff Writer

Republican Party support
Richard Greene to face
Roman Sohor in
GOP mayoral primary
By sue m. morgan
Staff Writer

OLD BRIDGE — Ward 5 Councilman Richard Greene will face Roman Sohor, who is presently the township’s Planning Board chairman, in the June primary to determine who will represent the Republican Party in the bid for mayor.

Meanwhile, the GOP has selected three newcomers, including the daughter of a deceased councilman, to vie for three at-large council seats now held by Democrats.

With nearly 60 of its members voting, Greene, chairman of the township’s Republican Party, won overwhelming support as the leading contender to succeed longtime Mayor Barbara Cannon during the screening of candidates on March 19.

Cannon, also a Republican, announced March 11 that she will not seek a fourth consecutive term. However, she does intend to complete her current term, which expires Dec. 31.

Sohor, a close political ally of Cannon’s, opted out of screening and later told the Suburban that given the previous commitment made by so many of his party’s members to Greene, he will face the chairman in the June primary.

The winner of the Republican primary is expected to face Middlesex County Treasurer and former two-term county Freeholder James T. Phillips in November. Phillips has announced he will run for mayor as a Democrat.

The Republicans tapped Robert Sucarato, Peter Trabucco and Amelia Mannino Pellicone to run for the three at-large council seats now held by incumbent Democratic Councilmen Lawrence Redmond, Dennis Maher and Edward Testino.

Out of 57 ballots cast by party members, Sucarato, the owner of his own New York-based capital and financial management consulting firm, garnered all 57 votes.

Pellicone, a banker and the daughter of the late Ward 5 Councilman Peter A. Mannino, followed with 51 votes, while Trabucco, a training director for the American Heart Association, came in with 48 votes.

The Democrats hold seven of the nine council seats. The two Republicans on the council are Greene and Ward 6 Councilwoman Lucille Panos.

Because Greene has already gained support for his mayoral bid from most of his party mate over the past several months, Sohor, who declared his candidacy on March 18, decided only to challenge the councilman in the June primary instead.

When Sohor, a former Ward 2 councilman, contacted local GOP members to ask for their support, he discovered that many members had already committed to endorsing Greene.

"I decided to leave people alone so they could honor their commitment," Sohor said.

Saying that he has Cannon’s verbal support, Sohor expressed confidence that he can mount a sizable challenge to Greene.

"I think I’ll be able to drum up support in the June primary," Sohor said.

In a short speech before his party mate, Greene thanked them for their support and focused not on the primary, but upon winning the mayor’s office in November.

The county’s Democratic Party will pour "a lot of money" into the upcoming mayoral campaign to ensure a victory, Greene said.

"I’m asking for your support because I can’t do it without you," Greene told those present.

Holding the line on taxes, encouraging commercial ratables to set up shop in town, and increasing the township’s open space inventory are the issues Greene said he will put forth to voters.

In addition, Greene expressed concerns about the Village at Town Center not proving to be what he had originally expected for the township’s planned "town center" district, as advocated by Cannon and other township officials.

"What I see across the street is not what I want," Greene said of the shopping center on the southwest corner of Route 516 and Cottrell Road.

"It is not a place where, as we were told, we can walk around on a nice day, ride our bikes," Greene went on. "What’s there is not the development I want to see."

Pellicone, 36, said she will run in order to reverse the Democrat-controlled council’s trends of "raising taxes and spending money."

"The council has been spending people’s money for the wrong reasons and not for what is best for the people of Old Bridge, but for themselves," said Pellicone, a lifelong resident of Ward 5.

A banker for 20 years with Liberty Bank in Monroe Township, Pellicone said she will use her financial expertise to assist in crafting municipal budgets without increasing taxes.

Sucarato, 33, suggested not just stabilizing taxes, but if possible, lowering them.

"I think we can, over time, start lowering taxes," Sucarato said. "I think it can be done."

The Long Island native and 17-year resident of Ward 5 asked the party to work with him and welcome all the newcomers.

"I think it is better to have a fresh face," Su­carato said. "A lot of people are fed up."

Trabucco, 42, called himself a "community-oriented person" who has campaigned for other party members during his six-year residency in the township.

"After being behind a lot of people, I thought it was time I stepped forward," said Trabucco, a Staten Island, N.Y., native.

The Ward 6 resident emphasized the need to preserve open space for future residents.

"Open space is one of the drawing points of the town," he said.

In response to questioning from senior party members about building name recogni­tion, both Sucarato and Trabucco indicated that they will run "word of mouth" campaigns by walking door to door, greeting residents at vari­ous community events held prior to the June 3 primary.