Kearny Democratic chairwoman to resign tonight; replacement expected to be in place also

McCurrie Observer file photo

The chairwoman of the Kearny Democrats, who oversaw a fractured party and mayoral election in 2023 where the party’s chosen nominee finished third of three candidates, will resign her position tonight, The Observer has learned.

Susan McCurrie became the party’s chairwoman after the resignation of former Mayor Alberto G. Santos in July to become a Superior Court judge. Around that time, she oversaw the party’s choice of Peter P. Santana as the official candidate for the town’s mayor over current Mayor Carol Jean Doyle in a 22 to 20 vote tally.

Over the summer, she used the party’s bylaws to unceremoniously remove Doyle from the county committee, a position she had had for more than 50 years. However, many of those so-called bylaws appeared to be questionable at best at the time of Doyle’s removal.

And there was significant backlash from the public over the move.

When the county committee meets, it expected a new chairperson will be chosen. The names of three people interested in replacing Doyle as a Third Ward member of the Town Council will also be put forth. It is also believed the committee will attempt to fill the seat once occupied by Doyle on the county committee; however, it is not clear whether it will be to place Doyle back in the seat (if it is even necessary) or if it will be someone new. (In Ward 3, District 8.)

While it is not immediately clear who the new chairperson will be, in the past, when the party has someone in the mayor’s seat, that person has been the chairman (Santos for many of those years.)

There are reportedly up to nine people who have shown interest in becoming the town’s new Third Ward representative, to join currently seated Councilwoman Eileen Eckel. However, there has been speculation Doyle has a candidate in mind, so it will, indeed, be interesting to see if that person is one of the three whose names are proffered to the entire Town Council for selection.

Ultimately, the council will receive the names of the three nominees put forth and will select one of those people to take Doyle’s former seat in early December. Whomever it is, that person would be required to run in a special election, beginning with a primary in June 2024 and then, in the General Election in November 2024. That term will end Dec. 31, 2025.

In noting she would step down, McCurrie, who spent more than 15 years as a Fourth Ward councilwoman, was gracious and said she was looking for healing in the party as it moves forward and in advance of the 2024 race for President of the United States.

“As a party, we have over the last several months experienced a passionate and at times contentious race for the town’s mayoral seat. A three-way race, two candidates from our party and one Republican candidate. During the county committee meetings, our party’s split was evident, with one candidate representing the Democratic line and the other candidate running off-line,” McCurrie wrote in a letter obtained by The Observer, in advance of the meeting.

“We also experienced a strong Republican response. Our party divide continued through to Election Day. The election is over, Mayor Doyle has assumed the seat of mayor and we now need to unify the Kearny Democratic Party not only for the upcoming presidential election where united Democratic support will be crucial, but also with the town council races in a couple of years. We need to maintain the strength and stability of our current Democratic council and their seats.”

McCurrie also offered personal words of her own.

“It has been an honor to serve as your chair and I thank you for your support,” McCurrie said in the letter.

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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.