Learn About Candidates Running to Represent Clifton this Election


The Clifton Democratic Club recently hosted a public “Meet the Candidates” evening at the Clifton Library, giving residents the chance to meet some of the local candidates running in this year’s election. Included were the nominees for State Assembly and State Senate in the 27th Legislative District, as well as one of the candidates for County Commissioner.

Due to recent redistricting, Clifton is the only Passaic County city in the 27th and now joins Essex County towns Livingston, Millburn, Montclair, Roseland, and West Orange. Running for election this year are John McKeon from West Orange for State Senate, and Alixon Collazos-Gill from Montclair and Rosaura “Rosy” Bagolie from Livingston for Assembly. The Democrats were running unopposed this year for these seats but write-in candidates during the Primary Election added some names to the ballot. Michael Byrne, a write-in candidate for the Republican Party, is challenging McKeon for State Senate. Jonathan Sym and Irene DeVita are both Republican write-ins for Assembly.

Other candidates in attendance, running for county seats, included Danielle Ireland-Imhof of Haledon for County Clerk and Orlando Cruz from Paterson for County Commissioner. Bruce James, Democrat, is also running for County Commissioner. Clifton Councilwoman Rosemary Pino, who recently switched parties to join the Republicans, is Ireland-Imhof's challenger and two Republicans, Andrena "Andie" Pegel and Kelley Amico, are on the ballot for County Commissioner.

Danielle Ireland-Imhof spoke about the responsibilities of the County Clerk as well as her credentials including education and experience. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers and a license as a Registered Municipal Clerk. The Clerk’s office is responsible for various governmental records and documentation, including election materials and passports. She spoke of her experience being critical to the smooth flow of her office. “Imagine you need a passport for that once-in-a-lifetime family vacation but a discrepancy in paperwork holds up the passport application, and you can’t leave the country. My staff and I are here to make sure that things don’t go wrong. We are all highly trained and most importantly, qualified for our positions. It’s impossible for someone without experience to be able to hit the ground running, and things can’t stop for them to learn on the job.”

Orlando Cruz is running this year for his first full term as a County Commissioner; he was chosen several years ago when TJ Best resigned due to moving to another state. Cruz spoke about his business experience in Passaic County and his vision to be a part of helping communities in the county with different needs. Most of the attendees were focused on what he could do to help alleviate traffic and congestion in Clifton, specifically in the Allwood Road area. He spoke about ongoing traffic studies and said that he would be taking time to review studies and listen to expert recommendations. Another concern raised was the lack of support for our teachers and Cruz asked for more information and said he would be learning more about this. Cruz asked for others to contact him and let him know their concerns.

Collazos-Gill talked about her “passion for government” as a child who immigrated to the United States and fell in love with the process that grants us the ability to make educated decisions as to who will represent us. She told the story of “backpacking in South America” after college graduation and paying exorbitant special delivery fees to both receive and send out her vote-by-mail form. “It was that important to me to have a say and it was worth the money.” Her experience is in strategic communications as well as community organizing and her interest in education “As a Mom, it is very strong.” She is a Latina and was involved with outreach in NJ for other Latina women.

Rosy Bagolie was unable to attend the meeting since she is a school principal and it was Back-to-School night in her district; it’s hoped she will be able to come to other meetings. Her Clifton connection is her husband, attorney Ricky Bagolie.

Finally, John McKeon sent his regrets – he was on vacation celebrating his 40th wedding anniversary – but he sent his campaign manager, Alexander Keister to speak a bit about McKeon’s experience as a long-time Assemblyman.

The election is Tuesday, November 7th. Vote-by-mail ballots will be sent out later this month and early voting will be available in Clifton as well. Stay tuned for more election information and see this article for links related to the process - how to register, requesting a vote-by-mail ballot, and more.

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