Clark politics got interesting Monday, when Councilman Rich Kazanowski announced that he was running to unseat Sal Bonaccorso in the November mayoral election.
Bonaccorso, a Republican, has served as mayor since 2000. Kazanowski has been involved in Clark politics since 1992, when he was appointed to fill a vacant council seat. He lost his place on council twice over the years, but has served consecutively since 2006. Kazanowski has never run for mayor before.
"I think three terms for Sal is enough," Kazanowski told Patch. "This looks like it would be a good year for Democrats in town and if you look around at the town as a whole, you figure there isn't any other Democrat who has name recognition and experience. You throw a newbie against Sal and it would be like throwing meat to the lions. With me running he’ll have to get out there and knock on doors."
As of Monday night's council meeting, Kazanowski said the mayor and the other members of council, all Republicans, have been very cordial about his entering the race.
"Rich is a nice guy and I have nothing personally against him whatsoever," Mayor Bonaccorso told Patch. "He has every right to run. I just hope, unlike the last three elections, that the Democratic party chooses to run a campaign and not a personal attack on my family, children, home, business. I want to continue to move Clark forward in a positive way. People will want to hear what he and they can do better."
The coming election will bring change for the Republican party. Councilwoman Sheila Whiting is not seeking re-election. Council-members-at-large Al Barr (R) and Angel Albanese's (R) terms are up this year, but both are running again. Joining them on the Republican ticket is newcomer William "Bill" Smith.
Phil Laskowski, who ran for council in the fourth ward in 2010, losing to Brian Toal, and newcomers Michael Altman and Michelle Novak make up the Democratic slate. Check back later today for more info on each of the council candidates.
"I've been on council for 12 years and did PTA stints for 10 years, so it’s been a long time," Whiting told Patch. "But my husband is going to retire and we are going to move to the shore. I'm going to miss the people of Clark - there’s only one Clark, New Jersey. I’m going to miss working with them and working for them, but when it’s your time to go, it’s your time go."
As to her replacement? "Bill Smith - what a nice guy," says Whiting. "He's been working for Clark for a long time and it's nice to see some new blood getting involved."
"We’re gonna miss Shiela," Mayor Bonaccorso told Patch. "She's a longtime community activitist, and any cause that’s happened in this town, she, her husband and her family answered call. It’ll be a great loss to community, but I’m sure we’ll still always see her around. We all wish her and her family luck."