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Curse of the Incumbent Claims Another as Cordts Steps Down in River Edge

After one term, Paul Cordts is the latest incumbent to not be reelected for the fifth straight year

For the fifth year in a row, River Edge was force to say farewell to yet another incumbent that lost a reelection bid. Former Council President Paul Cordts stepped down from the council after a single term.

Elected in 2009, the Republican local businessman and alum of Roosevelt School and River Dell Regional was twice named Council President, first in 2011 and then again in 2012.

"This town hasn't reelected an incumbent since 2007 to the council," Councilman Alphonse Bartelloni said. The last incumbent to win an election was Mayor Margaret Watkins in 2007 when she beat Democratic challenger Mary Anne [Hone] Rush. "I'm not sure if it's because the town is searching for something. People were told for a long time that there would be this redevelopment, that taxes would be lowered and things would be different, better in River Edge. But in the last five elections not one incumbent has been reelected."

Cordts, who is of German descent, jokingly stated that the reason he was not reelected was due to the high number of Italian descendents (Bartelloni, Ed Mignone, Anthony Cappola, Sandy Moscaritolo and Vito Acquafredda) that now sit on the dais.

"I want to thank the town of River Edge for giving me a chance to serve," Cordts said. "I initially ran so I could see what was happening inside town and am thankful I was given that opportunity to educate myself."

During his tenure with the governing body, Cordts joined as a minority party with former Councilman Johnny Porco under former Mayor Margaret Watkins. One year after his election, River Edge Republicans gained a majority control of the council which lasted until Jan. 1, 2013. The govering body now has a three-three partisan split under Democratic Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo.

"I had an opportunity to work under two mayors," Cordts said. "Mayor Watkins who did a phenomal job for 12 years and Sandy who through his leadership has taken this council and pulled it together."

Moscaritolo added that Cordts and himself are similar in that they are both straight shooters.

"I have to say that throughout the two years we worked together, Paul and I have developed a no BS rapport," Moscaritolo said. "Paul is a straight shooter. I am a straight shooter. And I'm proud to call him my friend."

Cordts was presented a plaque prior to stepping down crediting his valuable contributions and desire to serve the best interests of all borough residents.

Prior incumbents that lost reelection bids include Chris Lau (2008), Esther Fletcher (2009), Wendy Walker and Tom Smith (2010) and Mayor Margaret Watkins (2011).

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John R. Fugazzie January 02, 2013 at 11:55 AM
My sense is people do not want their local government to be partisan in any way, as they see the dysfunction and in ability to get things done on a national level with partisan divides. Government on a local level needs to be fully engaged with their residents and not be concerned with national party issues. Mayor's and Councils must show they work together to get things done, they can disagree on issues but in the end need to move the town forward.
GGT January 02, 2013 at 07:21 PM
John: I disagree. I think Paul had the courage to tell residents just what sorry shape the town is in. The residents choose to live in denial and thus embrace the Democrats message of apply for grants, and support volunteers and all will be well in River Edge again.
Fenway Kid January 02, 2013 at 10:05 PM
I think you are right. But that doesn't explain this loss because Paul Cordts was a major factor in forging a working relationship with all members of the Council. Let's hope the new members can serve as ably and as professionally as Paul did.

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