By Ron Leir
Eight years after riding off into the political sunset, former Lyndhurst Mayor James Guida has resurfaced.
Guida, previously voted in five times to the Township Board of Commissioners, will be looking to do it again as a surprise entry on the ballot in this year’s municipal election May 14. A total of 12 men and one woman are vying for five commission seats.
Now 82, Guida is running as a member of the “Leadership, Responsibility & Pride” slate in opposition to the administration ticket being fielded by the sitting mayor, Robert Giangeruso. An interesting oddity: The rival slates have dueling electricians.
The opposition slate filed its nominating petitions with the Township Clerk’s Office at the 11th hour, just before the 4 p.m. March 11 deadline.
Mark Gumble, campaign manager for that slate, characterized it as a “diverse ticket with deep ties to the community, experience in government and youthful energy” which, he says, “will bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to Lyndhurst and stop the unnecessary spending and borrowing that are burdening our residents, while restoring pride in the community.”
Gumble released these capsule profiles of the slate’s candidates:
William Vasquez, 47, is the general manager of L&L Holdings Co. in New York where he manages 1 million square feet of Lower Manhattan real estate. He was a biology major at CUNY Queens College, N.Y., with a minor in accounting, before moving into real estate. A 23-year Lyndhurst resident, Vasquez is treasurer of the Columbus-Lincoln PTA and a CCD teacher at Sacred Heart School where he coaches the girls’ softball team. He and his wife Kelly have four daughters.
Stephen R. Morinho III, 27, is an employee of United Water Co. of Harrington Park. A lifelong Lyndhurst resident, Morinho has coached youth football for the past seven years and has served as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He and his wife Jackie have two children.
Patrick Glover, 41, is a telephone company technician and chief steward of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 827 representing Bergen and Hudson counties. He attended Montclair State University and is now enrolled in the Rutgers University Labor Studies program. He has coached for the Junior Bears football program and CYO basketball for Sacred Heart Parish. He and his wife Marianna have two children.
Anthony Giarrusso, 42, owns The City Lounge, a local restaurant on Valley Brook Ave. off Grant Ave. A 40-year Lyndhurst resident, Giarrusso is a former soccer, T-ball and Little League coach. He and his wife Kathy have one child.
Guida, a retired Lyndhurst High School math teacher, earned a master’s degree in education from Seton Hall University and a certificate in business administration. He sat on the township commission for five straight four-year terms, from 1977 to 2005, overseeing at various times, finance, parks and recreation and public safety. He was also a member of the Lyndhurst Planning Board and of the New Jersey Meadowlands Municipal Committee. He coached Pop Warner football and Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball. He and his wife Mary Ann are lifelong Lyndhurst residents.
“I am running because I care about the future of this community, which is now deeply in debt and headed in the wrong direction,” Guida said. “When I was first elected, I worked to get things done that were important to the people. I got rid of old chemical companies and pulled the town out of the garbage business. …
“I have a different philosophical approach to governing than the current administration. My approach as a commissioner was to make sure the town lived within its means. Our debt then was minimal. Today the town’s debt has skyrocketed and those debts are starting to crush taxpayers. I have the knowledge and experience to govern and put this town back on the right track – and that’s what I hope the voters will let me do.”
Township voters can also choose from among a ticket led by Mayor Giangeruso and three candidates running solo: Annette Bortone, Louis Bilis and Darius Hughes.
A campaign brochure provided by the “Lyndhurst 1st Team” campaign offers voters “stable taxes, a safe town, reliable town services, continued programs for our youth and seniors [and] community spirit.” Campaign Manager Joseph Shinnick listed the slate’s candidates and some biographical information:
Robert B. Giangeruso, the current mayor and public safety commissioner, has served the past 10 months as mayor, having taken over the post from Commissioner Richard DiLascio, who chose not to seek reelection this year. Giangeruso is a retired Lyndhurst deputy police chief and, according to the brochure, “Under his direction, the LPD received the CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation – the gold standard in public safety.” He is credited as founding member of the Lyndhurst Italian-American Club and Lyndhurst Ed Fund Man of the Year. He’s an Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parishioner and sits on the boards of St. Barnabas and Clara Maass hospitals. He’s the father of Robert Jr., principal of Jefferson/ Columbus Schools, and Shawn, a producer at CNN Worldwide.
Thomas A. DiMaggio has served the past eight years as Township Parks & Recreation Commissioner and, during his tenure, hired certified teachers to supervise a Young Children’s Summer Camp. A graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, DiMaggio is lead loan officer at Cardinal Financial and a LHS Hall of Fame inductee. DiMaggio originated concerts, movie days, and meal programs for senior citizens, along with the annual senior prom. He chairs the Lyndhurst Fundraising Committee for Tomorrow’s Children. He and his wife Joyce have two children.
John J. Montillo Jr. is a licensed electrician, a 15-year member of the IBEW and president of Montillo Electric. Montillo, a Lyndhurst High graduate who attended Monmouth University, is a member of the Lyndhurst Planning Board and has been a volunteer coach and sponsor for Lyndhurst Recreation and Travel sports program for more than 15 years. A Sacred Heart parishioner, Montillo and his wife Bernadette have four children.
Theodore “Ted” Dudek, a lifelong Lyndhurst resident, is a graduate of LHS and of William Paterson University, with an accounting degree. Dudek is a licensed CPA and managing member/president of an accounting firm with 34 years’ experience. He’s a former coach of Boys/Girls Soccer and Youth Baseball and a lifelong St. Michael’s parishioner and a member of the Holy Name Society. He’s been an officer of the Lyndhurst Polish-American Club for nearly four decades. He’s the father of four children.
Matthew “Matty” Ruzzo served as superintendent of Lyndhurst’s Public Works Department for nearly 25 years and was “instrumental in rebuilding and maintaining Lyndhurst’s infrastructure.” He is now a township consultant. Ruzzo maintains a certified public works license and has attended Rutgers University’s government services program. He has served on the Lyndhurst Planning Board and is a former coach and umpire for Lyndhurst Little League. A lifelong Lyndhurst resident, he and his wife Gina have two children.
Annette Bortone is a former longtime member of the Lyndhurst Board of Education and has served many years as an officer with the Lyndhurst Woman’s Club. Her slogan is “The Best Bet Is Annette.”
Louis Bilis (“Keep Lyndhurst Tax Dollars In Lyndhurst”) is a former Lyndhurst police officer, and Darius Hughes (“A Voice For Common Sense”) is a current Lyndhurst educator. Neither responded to phone requests for interviews.
Drawing for ballot positions will take place March 27 at 3 p.m. at the Township Clerk’s Office on Stuyvesant Ave.