Plainfield Democrats secure freeholder, Assembly seats

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The county Democratic Party met May 31 in Cranford to select a Plainfield councilwoman for the vacant seat on the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Councilwoman Rebecca Williams, elected in 2016 to the Plainfield City Council, was chosen during a Union County Democratic Committee Convention at Union County College.

“I’ve spoken to, I believe, every chair, and I’ve been going around and meeting a number of the committee members,” Williams told the committee after being selected. “One of the things that I am known for — or was known for — in Plainfield, was the high quality of the constituent service I provided. So now, I hope to provide that same level of service at the county level. Everyone is certainly free to contact me and ask me questions.”
She fills the freeholder seat vacated by Linda Carter, who was selected by the UCDC to fill the state Assembly seat for the 22nd Legislative District after Assemblyman Jerry Green died April 18. The 22nd District includes parts of Linden, North Plainfield, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains and Winfield. Green had served in the state Legislature since 1992.

At the convention, UCDC Chairman Nicholas Scutari called on Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp to nominate a candidate. His nomination of Williams was seconded by Freeholder Vice Chairwoman Bette Jane Kowalski. No other candidates were nominated at the convention. The vote, taken by voice, appeared to be unanimous.

Assemblywoman Carter, meanwhile, was sworn into her seat in the state Legislature on May 24. Carter, too, is a former Plainfield councilwoman.
“I know how hard Assemblyman Green worked in making housing more affordable in our urban communities, and I am committing to picking up that torch and making him proud,” Carter said in a statement.

Green, who was also from Plainfield, died of an illness after missing all committee and voting sessions after being re-elected in November 2017. His illness had caused him to resign from his post as chairman of the UCDC, sparking an internal struggle amongst local Democrats for his spot. State Sen. Nicholas Scutari secured the post in February.

State Assemblyman Jamel Holley recently introduced a bill to rename Route 27 as “Jerry Green Memorial Highway.”
The nine-member Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is in for a shakeup in November. Freeholder Bruce Bergen will not seek re-election, while Freeholder Mohamed Jalloh did not secure the UCDC’s endorsement. Jalloh’s name will not appear on the ballot in the June 5 primary.
The UCDC has endorsed Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded, a former Westfield council candidate, and Roselle Councilwoman Andrea Staten for freeholders.

Freeholder Williams will serve out the remainder of Carter’s term until 2019, and will also seek re-election in November.
The Plainfield City Council will now vote to select a replacement for Williams’ vacated seat from among three candidates put forth by the Plainfield Democratic Party.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version incorrectly stated which entity would nominate three candidates to replace Williams on the Plainfield City Council.