Though he says he is humbled to have been considered a possible nominee to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-8, in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, Belleville Mayor Michael Melham says his focus will certainly be on his township and securing re-election in May for himself and his running mates — and this would have been the case even if Congressional districts weren’t about to change.
Two Jersey-based political websites, before Christmas, tossed around the concept of Melham running for Sires’s vacated seat. One of the websites even had him polling at second place, for some time, to become the nominee.
But ultimately, Melham says, it’s Belleville he cares most about — and that will be his focus moving forward. He won’t be challenging U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who may soon represent Belleville in D.C.
“Having accomplished so much here in Belleville, it was an honor to have my name associated with a potential run for Congress,” Melham told The Observer. “It’s a testament to just how much we have accomplished here in Belleville, in such little time. To be clear, I never voiced my intentions on running. Rather, I mentioned that I’ve been paying attention to the re-districting map, which is every mayor’s duty and obligation. Understandably, that statement was used to float the idea of a Congressional bid by the media.”
But that meant nothing absolute.
“That said, as I stated a few weeks ago, in my major re-election announcement, as much success as we’ve had, there’s still work to be done,”Melham said. “And I’m as committed today, as I was in 2018, when I first ran. That’s why I announced my candidacy for re-election as Mayor as early as I did.
“I plan on continuing to work hard for the people of Belleville. I have since spoken with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, who Belleville stands to inherit if the current version of the new Congressional map stands. When she called, we discussed many far-ranging projects happening in Belleville and agreed to not only a tour of the township, but a dinner at the legendary Belmont Tavern, something I’m looking forward to.”
Still, Melham, says it was his honor just to have been mentioned as a potential candidate for the House of Representatives.
“Most will never be able to say that they were mentioned as a one-time potential candidate for Congress (albeit for about 16 hours),” he said.
Belleville’s non-partisan elections take place May 10. Melham is seeking a second term. At present, no other candidates have declared intentions of challenging him. Candidates have until 64 days prior to the election to submit nominating petitions — March 7. Deputy Mayor Naomy De Peña and Councilman-at-large Thomas Graziano are his ticket mates.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.