Third Place Republican Primary Vote Getter Will Not Run for Council Seat
Rossana Surace made the decision not to run even though the Bergen County Republican Organization, which is tasked with filling the vacancy left by Peter B. Campbell bowing out, would have considered her.
In the only contested municipal primary election race in Fort Lee on June 5, Republican candidates for Borough Council Thomas Bennett and Peter B. Campbell, who were running together, easily defeated Rossana Surace, who was running alone.
On the day before the election, Campbell told Patch that if he won, he would probably drop out of the race, and that if Surace won, he would gladly endorse her.
But Surace got just 107 votes to Bennett’s 467 and Campbell’s 468.
Later that week, an official with the Bergen County Election Division told Patch that if Campbell does bow out, the Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) has until September to fill the vacancy.
As it turns out, Surace is not going to be the candidate filling that vacancy, although her campaign manager said Surace’s decision not to run was made after she was told she would be considered if she submitted her name to the committee.
“I will not be running for Fort Lee Council,” Surace said in an email. “I will continue to stay active in Fort Lee and in the Republican party. I will fully support the Republican candidates since they are Fort Lee's ticket to much needed change.”
Surace went on to say that Fort Lee is in need of a two-party system “in order to admit that we have problems and to provide constructive ideas to address those problems as part of the governing body.”
“An increase in local property taxes of 17.7 percent in five years is shameful, no matter how the current governing body try to sugarcoat it,” she said. “Further, it is insulting to hear the mayor pat himself on the back for lowering the debt—by refinancing for lower interest rates—when his administration raised our debt to the tune of $70 million in the last five years.”
Surace added, “The only way to stop this train is to ban together and elect officials who admit there are problems that must be addressed immediately.”
One thing, however, is certain: Bennett, 69, a retired postal supervisor who was elected to the Fort Lee Board of Education in 1977, served as president of the board in 1979, but otherwise has never been elected to public office, isn’t going anywhere.
“I didn't run so I could drop out,” Bennett previously told Patch. “I am in it to the end.”
Bennett and whoever his running mate turns out to be will face a tough task in unseating incumbent Fort Lee Councilmen Harvey Sohmer and Joseph Cervieri, Jr. in November’s general election though. The Fort Lee Borough Council has been comprised entirely of Democrats for many years.
Sohmer previously said he was “aggravated at the Republican Party that they do this all the time” but that, in any case, he was “not afraid of who we’re going to run against.”
“They pick and choose, and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” Sohmer said. “If you’re picked for the primary, you should be the person that runs.”
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