Yes We Did.

Democrats for Hawthorne in the Press

As many of you know, I’ve been outspoken in support of primaries, and in support of running for county committee.

So, it was with great pride, and some courage, that I joined with 25 other proud democrats in Hawthorne on Monday to file a full slate of 26 democratic county committee candidates to run in this year’s primary election for Passaic County Committee – under the “Democrats for Hawthorne” banner. It is an historic undertaking – there has not been a contested primary for even one democratic committee seat in Hawthorne in at least 20 years. And our work is far from over.

But this is America, and we should still get to vote on who represents us, and who is in charge of our political parties. Publicly, everyone agrees with that sentiment. Privately, not so much.

You see, there’s another slate running in town, led by our current municipal chair, John Girgenti. Under his 30-year leadership, Hawthorne has failed to elect even one democrat as Mayor or At-Large Councilmember. And, in the last 10 years, we’ve elected only 3 democrats as Ward Councilmembers – 1 who has since switched parties, the other 2 who are supporting our slate. Indeed, about the only people not supporting our slate are Girgenti’s relatives and “employees” – including the multiple Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission employees who owe their jobs to the Senator’s generosity with our tax money.

Our goal is to unite and build the Democratic Party in Hawthorne for a winning future.

But, as you might guess, rather than embrace the increased interest in Democratic organizing this brings to Hawthorne, Girgenti is lashing out, upset that anyone would dare challenge him. He’s quoted in the local paper, basically accusing us of being liberal extremists, and blaming others for his own record of failure as Hawthorne’s Democratic leader.

And, he nearly came unglued at a public event last Saturday (Sheriff Speziale’s campaign HQ grand opening), when he refused to stand next to our only elected Democratic councilman, whose wife is running on our slate. Not very Senatorial. And more importantly, not how a democratic leader should behave in public.

We’re braced for much worse behavior than that – money can pay for all sorts of nastiness, and Girgenti has tons of money to spend. But in the end, this is a campaign to organize Democrats in a town that has been voting Republican for far too long, too often with the Senator’s help.

It’s time we change that. And we took the first step this week.

Comments (18)

  1. Matthew Jordan

    it is not easy to explain to someone what a County Committee member does, no less get 25 people to run for the seats.  

    Good luck Democrats for Hawthorne!  

  2. Rosi Efthim

    Yeah, this is a post that I guarantee you is being emailed all over the place today, and landing in all kinds of Inboxes. And causing all kinds of frowny faces for some and happy faces for others. Ha.

    High-five, Democrats for Hawthorne. High-five and Bravo.

  3. bluestatejoe

    I knew I was backing a strong leader in Jeff. Way to come out swinging, my friend.

  4. Carl Bergmanson

    You have it exactly right when you say:

    But this is America, and we should still get to vote on who represents us, and who is in charge of our political parties. Publicly, everyone agrees with that sentiment. Privately, not so much.

    The machines have no interest whatsover in democracy and the primaries in NJ are – for the most part – a joke at the expense of the voters. The County Committees control the process, and the machines control the County Committees.

    There is nothing Democratic about a machine.

  5. furiousdee

    This is the right message

    by the right people

    at the right time!

    Progressives everywhere (are you listening, my fellow NYers?) need to take this page from the Democrats for Hawthorne playbook and take back their party, counties, and states.

    And, JPG?? I’m so very proud of your efforts here and in past battles – excellent, my friend – excellent!

  6. the pollster

    Democracy in action!  Kick a little butt in Passaic.


  7. Babs NJSD


  8. bluescat1

    As President of Trenton’s East Ward Dem’s congratulations, in this political climate I know how hard it is to get people involved.

  9. Cecilia Fasano

    I know how hard that was … here’s to a beginning of a new reality for Hawthorne.

  10. carolh

    I know how tough it is to primary for County Committee, but I know if anyone can do it, you can, Jeff.

    Passaic County needs you guys.  The sewerage authorities are where creeps like Joe Ferriero get patronage jobs.  They are probably so scared right now, because Christie is gunning for them and Senator Weinberg is still in the Senate.  All they need is a good mutiny to unseat the Democrats who protect them, to really make them apoplectic.

    I love democracy in action 🙂

  11. IndependentNJ

    …is an anti-gay bigot who puts his Catholic beliefs above everyone else.

    Just another reason to throw him out.

  12. Got Kids

    I’m with the poster above who asked if there was anything, ANYTHING, you need. Do Not be afraid to ask. We are with you.

    Power= Organized People + Organized Money!

  13. Nick Lento

    …for actually implementing what I, and others, have been calling for for years here.

    If the people of Hawthorne actually get the message and actually come to UNDERSTAND what’s at stake….no one (unless they are DIRECTLY benefiting from the existing machine) will vote for the status quo.

    If Loretta Weinberg and the Real Bergen Democrats had adopted this kind of all out aggressive progressive strategy when they butted up against Boss Joe they/we would have literally taken over the party in Bergen and it would have sent shockwaves throughout the state…and I dare say, nation……and we wouldn’t have had a Christie in Trenton.

    I remember the hatred and hostility that was evident on this site for people who were against the BCDO under Boss Joe……and let no one think that all of these battles are won just because of this action in Hawthrorne.

    Whenever reform folks get in…..they too will be wined and dined and seduced by the same monied interests that own the current crop of pols…….weeding the garden is a perennial ongoing activity.

    Meanwhile, again……keep it up Jeff.    Thanks for having the guts, talent and initiative to actually DO what I have only been talking about!  

    (On the other hand……there IS value in speaking out and putting ideas out there years before they become manifest……While it’s ALWAYS good to speak truth to power…’s even better to CONFRONT power with a higher power!)

    There’s a chant that us old lefties use at demonstrations, “The people, united, will never be defeated.”   And there’s a lot of truth to that……one thing is 100% absolutely certain though and that is that UNLESS the people are united they will ALWAYS be defeated!   Jeff’s action in Hawthorne sets an example for the rest of us to follow, thanks again!

  14. Bertin Lefkovic

    I don’t know if it is too late to address this issue, but as someone who organized opposition slates for Governor Jim Florio during his primary election campaign against Jon Corzine, I know firsthand how important a slate’s structure is to its potential for success.

    Other than Congressman Rothman’s uncontested re-election campaign, what other races are there involving Hawthorne at the municipal and county level?  Do you have candidates in these races as well?

    If not, then you should probably try to convince Congressman Rothman to run on his own independent line.  Considering the fact that Hawthorne is the only Passaic County town in the district, Rothman could make a very credible argument for not taking sides in this intramural battle.

    Convincing Congressman Rothman to separate himself from the Girgenti slate would definitely level the playing field somewhat and send a powerful message to the residents of Hawthorne that they truly have a real choice of Democratic representation this year.


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