In November, Kearny will see 3 of 4 council races contested, Harrison will see 1 in fight for mayor

Three of the four Democrats running for the Kearny Council — two newcomers and two incumbents — will face opponents in November’s election after unaffiliated candidates filed petitions Tuesday, June 7, the final day permissible to do so.

Second Ward Councilman Peter J. Santana, an incumbent, faces no opposition for re-election.

In the First Ward, newcomer George Zapata, a Democrat who currently serves on the Kearny Board of Education, and who replaced the retiring Albino Cardoso as the official Dem candidate, will square off against Mohammad “Smiley” Whala, who owns and operates Bella Re’s Pizza on Kearny Avenue.

In the Third Ward, incumbent Eileen Eckel will face a challenge from longtime Kearny High School history teacher and girls’ crew coach David Paszkiewicz. He is also the pastor of Berea Baptist Church of Kearny.

And in the Fourth Ward, newcomer Democrat Stathis Theodoropoulous, who is running for the seat currently occupied by the retiring Susan McCurrie, will face local realtor Sydney J. Ferreira, who last year ran, unsuccessfully, in a primary against Mayor Alberto G. Santos.


In Harrison, meanwhile, four of five incumbents will face no opposition.

In a 2018 rematch of sorts, however, Mayor James A. Fife, who seeks a new term as the Democratic nominee, will face off against former Councilman Anselmo Millan. The two ran against each other four years ago for the Democratic nomination, with Fife winning that race easily. Millan had running mates that time, but has no one else running with him on a ticket this year. A year later, Millan ran for Second Ward Councilman with a ticket and all lost their races.

Democrats, meanwhile, running for council seats, are all incumbents and are running unopposed. Without challengers, they’re presumptive winners come November.

In the First Ward, it’s Jesus R. Huaranga; in the Second Ward, it’s Ellen Mendoza; in the Third Ward, it’s Lawrence M. Bennett and in the Fourth Ward, it’s James P. Doran. Delfim Sarabando, a sitting Third Ward councilman, will run unopposed to keep the seat he was appointed to following the retirement of Francisco Nascimento.

East Newark had two candidates seeking two seats, both running unopposed. They are Christopher Reis and Jessica H. Diaz, an incumbent.

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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.