Seeking to return to his old job as mayor of Roselle, Assemblyman Jamel Holley refused to participate in last night’s Democratic caucus, arguing that the local party violated its bylaws to ensure that incumbent Donald Shaw won the organizational line.
“I plan to run directly to the people of Roselle, where I know I will have a fair and honest opportunity to be their next mayor,” Holley said. “I will never participate in a meeting/review that violates my own charter and fundamental rights and expect that it may have a favorable outcome.
The Rozelle Democratic Committee voted unanimously to endorse Shaw as a mayoral candidate. However, Holley suggests that 19 of the 38 county committee members attended the meeting – just enough for a quorum – and that the municipal chairman, Assemblyman Reginald Atkins, encouraged proxy voting.
Holly alleges that a flyer supporting Shaw’s re-election campaign ad was paid for by the Rozelle Democratic Committee and appeared in mailboxes before the actual vote in support of him. He says the statute prohibits party funds “except with the approval of a majority of the committee at a special or regular meeting.”
Holly says proper written notice of the meeting to support candidates was also not provided, making it impossible for challengers to submit a letter of intent ten days before the meeting. As the letter went out eight days before yesterday’s meeting, Holley questions how the candidates could have given notice of their intention within ten days.
“I have always been involved in the democratic process since I first ran for public office in 2004,” Hawley said. “In all my years of organizing or participating in shows, I have never witnessed such ridicule.”
Hawley said he has “many allies in the Roselle Democratic Committee and they feel betrayed by the actions of Chairman Atkins and Mayor Shaw who have defiled this process.”
Atkins said Shaw “has done an outstanding job and deserves an opportunity to build on his success.”
“You could see in this room tonight how united we are to move forward, to be stronger together,” he said.
Shaw won a special election as mayor in 2020 following the resignation of Christine Dansereau.
A year earlier, when local Democrats denied Dansereau the party’s endorsement for a second term, she fled the election and defeated Shaw by eight percent.
Holly served as mayor from 2012 until his victory extraordinary elections to the State Assembly in 2015. He gave up his seat to challenge incumbent Joseph Cryan (D-Union) in the Democratic state Senate primary in 2021. Cryan won by eighteen points.
“I think voters will really buy into our message,” Shaw said. “It’s all about bringing the city together to move forward. There is no more looking back, no more old divisive politics, we deliver tangible results and we do it together.”