In a social media post on Facebook, former Mayor Christine Dansereau has endorsed Jamel Holley, who is seeking to return to his old job in Borough Hall as a candidate for nomination in the Democratic primary election.
“It has been amazing to watch one of Roselle’s own grow into a great person and leader,” said Dansereau. “Politics is a bumpy road and few people survive and grow with grace to become a human being that you can trust to represent you in a positive committed selfless way.”
“Jamel Holley is that kind of person and someone you want to have your back in these uncertain times,” said Dansereau. “Vote for Jamel Holley for the Mayor of Roselle and change the road tarnished and littered with disappointment to one that exhibits a bright future for all Roselle Residents. God Bless.”
Holley is running for mayor on a ticket that is expected to include Third Ward Councilwoman Cynthia Johnson and Stan Cunningham, the president of the local Pop Warner Football Program who is seeking election to replace First Ward Councilman Richard Villeda, who is not seeking re-election.
Cunningham, a professional mental health manager for a state nonprofit agency, will face Isabel Sousa, the candidate Villeda defeated four years ago.
The filing deadline for offices at stake in the election is on Monday.
Holley complained that the local party boss rigged a Democratic screening committee by violating the organization’s bylaws to ensure incumbent Donald Shaw was awarded an unfair ballot advantage on the regular political organization line.
“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.
Roselle voters have a history of supporting Holley, and experience rewarding independence in primary battles that party bosses attempted to rig.
Shaw was installed as mayor after Dansereau resigned in 2020, despite the fact that he was sounded rejected a year earlier, when party bosses denied Dansereau support for a second term, she ran off the line and defeated him.
Shaw only had the support of 34 percent of the voters in 2019 but to pave the way for his selection, party bosses stripped Councilwoman Denise Wilkerson of the mayoralty after she succeed Dansereau, in the manner prescribed by law.
Holley previously served as councilman starting in 2005, then mayor, serving from 2012 until he was elected to the state General Assembly in 2015. He gave up that seat to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent Joseph Cryan in the 2021 Democratic primary for state Senate.
He attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
He made history by officiating the first gay wedding in New Jersey, by being elected as Union County’s youngest councilman at age 25, and at age 32, by becoming the borough’s youngest-ever mayor.
After the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, Holley led Roselle as the first Union County municipality to appeal to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate alleged civil rights violations related to the 2012 fatal shooting of the unarmed teenager.
Dansereau said she resigned for health reasons but she remains a popular figure among local Democrats—who dominate elections here— and the broader community.