Samuel Gonzalez

Jeffries heads Adubato-backed School Board ticket

Jeffries heads Adubato-backed School Board ticket
Shavar Jeffries Credit: Seton Hall University

NEWARK - Not set yet but building toward April 20th, the field for the Newark School Board elections features a North Ward-backed team headed by a man Newark insiders say could be a future big time citywide candidate: civil rights attorney/Seton Hall Law School Professor Shavar Jeffries.

If Mayor Cory Booker had the Ivy League credentials without the Newark childhood - a combination that grates on the nerves of some older guard voters - the 35-year old Jeffries possesses the South Ward background in addition to degrees from Duke and Columbia. 

He heads the Steve Adubato-backed School Board ticket, replacing Board chair Sammy Gonzalez, who was jettisoned this year as he faces state charges of absentee ballot fraud in connection with the 2007 campaign of his wife, state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark).

On the team with Jeffries are school psychologist Ivan Lamourt and Shanique L. Davis Speight - wife of Central Ward Democratic Committeeman Andre Speight and a political piece in Adubato's ongoing effort to strengthen ties in the Central Ward. If the Adubato-backed Jeffries proves an emergent political force, his South Ward roots would stretch an Adubato lifeline even farther south.

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Christie announces Dow as his choice for attorney general

Christie announces Dow as his choice for attorney general
Gov.-elect Christophe Christie, with Attorney General-designate Paula Dow, and Marc Ferzan

TRENTON -- Introducing her as a tough attorney who speaks truth to power, Gov.-elect Christopher Christie today introduced Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow, who was a federal prosecutor during his first two years as U.S. attorney, as his nominee for state Attorney General.

“We have worked together now for nearly six years, and in those six years I will tell you that she has grown immeasurably – even beyond where she was when she worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as a manager, as a leader and as a lawyer,” said Christie at a press conference this afternoon.

Christie said that Dow was one of the first U.S. Attorney’s Office staffers he talked to upon assuming the office in 2002, when she was a line assistant with the special investigations unit.

“It was and remains to this day one of the most candid conversations I’ve ever had with someone who worked for me,” said Christie.  “Paula spoke very bluntly about where she thought the office was, where she thought it needed to go, and immediately questioned whether I was being credible with her or not about where I wanted to take it.”

Christie also introduced his leadership team for the Department of Law and Public Safety, all of whom are either current or former staffers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office: Phillip Kwon, the current deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office’s criminal division, will be the new first assistant attorney general; Marc Ferzan, who holds the same title as Kwon, will be executive assistant; and Essex County First Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, who is also a former U.S. Attorney’s Office staffer, will serve as counsel ot the attorney general.

Dow, who will take a pay cut if she is confirmed to become the state’s top prosecutor, said that she took the job because it presents a new challenge.

“I love being a prosecutor, so who cannot love being considered for the next attorney general,” she said.

Neither Christie nor Dow went into specifics about the future priorities in the office’s case work.  Christie said he would leave those decisions to Dow, who said that it is too early to address them.

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What will Ruiz do?

Gov.-elect Christopher Christie's expected nomination of Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow as state Attorney General presents a possible conflict for State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), who must sign off on Dow as one of five Senators who has courtesy over appointments from Essex County.  The Attorney General is currently investigating allegations of voter fraud from Ruiz's 2007 State Senate campaign, and has indicted several campaign workers, including Ruiz's husband, Essex County Freeholder Samuel Gonzalez.  If confirmed, it would be Dow who prosecutes the North Ward crew - a political organization that Christie has aggressively cultivated.

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DiVincenzo won't ask Gonzalez to quit

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo will not seek the resignation of Freeholder Samuel Gonzales, who was indicted yesterday on ballot fraud charges related to the 2007 campaign of his wife, State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark).  Ruiz serves as DiVincenzo's Deputy Chief of Staff, and all three come out of Stephen Adubato's North Ward political organization.

In recent years, state Democratic leaders have quickly sought the resignation of indicted public officials.  But sources say that DiVincenzo views the charges against Gonzalez are fundamentally different than those filed against several Democratic legislators and mayors.  Attorney General Anne Milgram filed no official misconduct charges against Gonzalez, a one-term Freeholder and an aide to North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.  And the allegations against Gonzalez do not include the exchange of money.  DiVincenzo, source says, views this as an important distinction.

The charges against Gonzalez appear similar to those made against Roselle Council President Jamel Holley, who was charged with voter fraud last summer.

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Essex Freeholder charged with ballot fraud in wife's 2007 Senate campaign

Essex Freeholder charged with ballot fraud in wife's 2007 Senate campaign
Essex County Freeholder Samuel Gonzalez, the husband of State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark)

Essex County Freeholder Samuel Gonzalez has been charged with ballot fraud in the case of his wife's 2007 senate campaign, according to state Attorney General Anne Milgram. 

Five more people, including Gonzalez, husband of Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), were indicted today for election fraud in connection with absentee ballots they collected and submitted as workers for Ruiz’s 2007 campaign, Milgram said.

"I have full confidence in Samuel, my husband, as a long standing public servant," Ruiz said in a statement. "I know during the campaign he conducted himself in an absolutely appropriate and professional fashion. I am confident as this process plays out that this conclusion will be reached. I continue as State Senator, to work with all agencies involved to reach a conclusion to the situation, while I continue to serve the citizens of my district."

Milgram's office charged an additional five campaign workers in four prior indictments connected with Ruiz's 2007 senate campaign.

Today's indictment charges Gonzalez, 39, and Joaquin Caceres, 50, both of Newark, with tampering with documentation for absentee ballots.

An Essex County freeholder and chairman of the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board, Gonzalez also serves as an aide to Newark City Councilman Anibal Ramos.

Caceres is a senior program development specialist on the Newark mayor’s staff.

Today's indictment also charges Jonathon Kowalski, 32, of Newark, John Fernandez, 58, of Belleville, and Edwin Cruz, 48, of Newark.

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The Back Room

National progressive group backs Watson Coleman in CD12

The Progressive Democrats of America Co-Founder and National Director Tim Carpenter and State Chair Mary Ellen Marino today endorsed Bonnie Watson Coleman for the Democratic nomination in the 12thCongressional District.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 24, 2014

Organization to honor Gov. KeanAn event next month for Community Options, Inc. will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the organization's founding and honor Governor Tom Kean, Sr., a was an advocate over 25 years ago for bringing individuals with developmental disabilities out of state institutions into small group homes.Robert...


How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >


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(Absecon Island, NJ) --With his shocking win in last year's election, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian emerged as one of the most intriguing figures in the New Jersey political... more »
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This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is the only Tea Party group that endorsed Mitt Romney. These guys are the Vichy French of the Tea Party movement. They're the guys who say 'Viva la France,' and then you can't find them when the fighting starts. Come on." - GOP strategist Rick Shaftan, on the Independence Hall Tea Party group.



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