Holley says party boss broke rules to rig endorsement for incumbent Mayor

Assemblyman Reginald Atkins is under fire for working to bring together supporters of Mayor Donald Shaw and his primary challenger, former Assemblyman Jamel Holley, to unify the Roselle Democratic Party.

Assemblyman Jamel Holley opted out of participating in the Democratic screening committee Thursday night, claiming that the local party violated its bylaws to ensure incumbent Donald Shaw won the organization line.

As he seeks to return to his previous job as mayor of Roselle, Holley alleged that the meeting had precisely enough members for a quorum, and that the municipal chairman, Assemblyman Reginald Atkins, had encouraged proxy voting.

Holley also claimed that a flyer supporting Shaw’s reelection campaign was paid for by the Roselle Democratic Committee, even though it appeared in mailboxes before the actual vote to endorse him, which constitutes a misappropriation of funds.

“I plan to take my candidacy directly to the residents of Roselle, where I know I will receive a fair and honest opportunity to become their next mayor,” Holley said. 

“I have always participated in the democratic process since the first time I ran for public office in 2004,” Holley said. “In all my years of both organizing or participating in screenings, I have never witnessed this type of mockery.”

The bylaws specifically require members to be present for voting on endorsements and prohibit Atkins from making expenditures like the one that financed the flyer supporting Shaw’s reelection campaign.

Holley added that proper written notice of the meeting to endorse candidates was not provided, making it impossible for contenders to submit a letter of intent ten days in advance, as the bylaws require.

Holley plans to take his candidacy directly to the residents of Roselle where he knows he will receive a fair and honest opportunity to become their next mayor.

Shaw won a special election as mayor in 2020 after Christine Dansereau resigned, and the Roselle Democratic Committee voted unanimously to endorse him as their mayoral candidate.

Holley served as mayor from 2012 until winning a special election for State Assembly in 2015. He gave up his seat to challenge incumbent Joseph Cryan, of Union, in the Democratic State Senate primary in 2021.

Third Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Johnson said she will be joining Holley’s slate in the June 6 Democratic primary election.

Holley also has the support of Councilman Richard Villeda as well as Stan Cunningham, the president of the local Pop Warner Football program who will seek the nomination to replace Villeda.

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