Resigning Linden councilman facing foreclosure

LINDEN, NJ — A city councilman who said he considered resigning from his position over a bitter primary campaign season may have another reason for wanting to leave his post: his home was foreclosed on in March.
Third Ward Councilman Peter Brown, Jr. purchased a home in his ward in 2009, records show. A county official confirmed the home was sold March 14 in a foreclosure sale.

Councilmembers must live in the ward they represent. Brown has not received an eviction notice, and he said he would stay within the third ward should he have to move.

“If anyone doubts that I live in the ward, they can come over to my house and they can have some tea because I don’t drink alcohol,” Brown said in a phone interview.

Brown, 36, originally told LocalSource he was resigning over the political divide in the city, putting the blame on Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, who is also a state senator.
Brown, an ally of the current mayor, then recanted and said he may not run for re-election once his term ends next year.
Scutari withdrew his endorsement for Mayor Derek Armstead for the June 5 primary, and instead supported 10th Ward Councilwoman Gretchen Hickey for office. Armstead won the primary even without the support of the party.

Scutari ditched the incumbent mayor after Armstead supported Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr for UCDC chair earlier this year. Armstead also ran for vice president of the UCDC, but ultimately lost when Scuatari was voted in as chair by the nearly 850-member committee.

“I don’t think the mayor and I have any bitterness,” Scutari said in a phone interview. “He made a decision I didn’t like. I supported him until then.”
He later added: “I spoke to him (Armstead) recently and we’re looking forward to moving forward. Some people are not going to come along, some people will.”

Brown has still not officially resigned.
He claimed his home’s foreclosure was due to a loan issue involving his divorce from 2014. His ex-wife could not be reached for comment.
“It was because of my divorce. It had nothing to do with my finances,” he said, later adding that, “It’s a legal issue, which they (his opponents) don’t understand.”

The councilman previously told LocalSource he wanted to resign so he could focus on his family and possibly pursue a doctoral degree in psychology.
“I’ve got to discuss my personal divorce four years later,” Brown said, adding that he divorced in 2014. “I’ve already moved on, remarried and my children need to relive all of this because of Nick Scutari, Gretchen Hickey” and her camp.
Hickey did not respond to a request for comment.

Sixth Ward Councilman John Roman, an outspoken supporter of Hickey, said he works as a purchasing agent in the same building as the sheriff’s office and noticed that Brown’s home came up for a foreclosure sale in March.

“This isn’t a Scutari-did-this type of thing,” Roman said. “Scutari didn’t say ‘Hey, Peter, you didn’t pay your bills for years.’”
Brown works as a substitute in the city’s school district, according to public disclosure forms and school board minutes. Records also show he had an interest in PBG Solutions, a political consulting firm based in Princeton.

He said he wants to continue doing working with his nonprofit organization, One Linden One Direction.
If Brown were to step down, city council would have to select one of candidate put forth by the Linden Democratic Committee. Scutari is also the municipal chairman of the city’s democratic committee.

Brown’s first term began in 2011.