Mayor, two council seats on ballot in Sayreville

Staff Writer

Candidates from both parties are preparing for the Nov. 3 general election with less than five weeks to go before voters will head to the polls.

In the Borough of Sayreville, hometown of state Assemblyman John Wisniewski (DMiddlesex), hardball is the name of the game.

Four-term Republican Mayor Kennedy O’Brien is seeking re-election against a challenge from incumbent Council President David McGill, who has received the Democratic nomination to run for the office.

Two three-year terms on the Borough Council are also up for grabs, with incumbent Ricci Melendez and candidate Steven Grillo looking to maintain the Democrats’ hegemony against Republican candidates Pasquale “Pat” Lembo and David Lewis, who is also treasurer of O’Brien’s campaign fund. Lembo ran alongside former councilwoman Lisa Eicher on the GOP ticket last year, narrowly losing to current Councilwomen Mary Novak and Victoria Kilpatrick.

For the Republicans, the race represents an opportunity to retain the mayorship and increase their standing on the council, which Democrats control with five seats to one.

O’Brien said the GOP platform rests on three key planks: establishing long-term tax relief; fighting traffic, crime and overdevelopment; and enhancing civic pride.

“As the [Luxury Point] project is built out, the O’Brien team will make sure that millions of dollars will be directed toward municipal coffers from corporate interests,” O’Brien said in an email. “The O’Brien team will ensure this cash windfall is funneled directly to tax relief for residents, in a transparent fashion, rather than wasted on hiring political cronies for no-show jobs in town hall.” According to O’Brien, the Republicans are also wary of expanding residential development in town when it burdens the local school district.

“The O’Brien Team embraces all that is special about Sayreville, which is why we will fight to maintain the strong quality of life we all enjoy,” he said. “That means we will fight any new residential development that will negatively impact the public schools.”

McGill sees his ticket’s role as “regenerating Sayreville,” a borough that he says is stuck in the past.

“This is a borough that’s stuck in the past and doesn’t know how to move forward,” McGill said. “I want to keep our seniors here and cultivate a stable tax base by bringing in young families.”

He added that part of building a stable tax base is ushering in projects like Luxury Point, an 8-million-square-foot mixed-use development on the former National Lead site. McGill said his experience with the Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency (SERA) and the local land use boards will help continue that sort of growth.

“It’s a win-win,” he said.

According to McGill, Melendez and Grillo offer insights into information technology and urban planning, respectively, based on their own professional experience. He added that it’s the expertise of those young professionals that will help revitalize the borough.

“It’s these young people who will bring us forward in this town,” McGill said.

Freeholder, Assembly races

Incumbent Democratic Middlesex County Freeholders Ronald Rios and H. James Polos are set to face Republican challengers Jose Alonso and Sharon Hubberman. Each party’s candidates ran uncontested in the primary elections.

The Borough of Sayreville is located in the state’s 19th Legislative District, where Democrats hold both Assembly seats and the state Senate seat. Incumbent Democratic Assemblymen Craig Coughlin and John Wisniewski both were unopposed in the primary election. Their opponents will be Republicans Thomas Maras and Reyes Ortega, who also ran uncontested in the primary.