City Council unanimously appointed Joseph Gibilisco to the vacant 6th Ward seat on the governing body during a special meeting last night.
The Democratic Committee was required to present City Council with three nominees to fill the vacancy. Raymond Giacobbe, Jr. resigned the 6th Ward seat after the governing body appointed him interim mayor on Jan. 8. He will serve the remaining year of Samson Steinman’s original term and is plans to run for a full term this year. Steinman stepped down on Dec. 24.
Gibilisco of William Young Drive will serve the remainder of this year and would have to file to run in a special election for the remaining two years of the original four-year term to which Giacobbe was elected to in 2016. After last night’s meeting, Gibilisco said he might run for the unexpired term, hoping to see how the experience goes in the interim.
During brief remarks at last night’s meeting, Gibilisco said his focus will be drug prevention. “I can’t change the tax structure but maybe I can change how people look at drugs in Rahway,” he said. Gibilisco has lived in Rahway for 43 years and is the owner and operator of The Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home on West Milton Avenue. In his work with the county medical examiner’s office, he said he’s seen first-hand the results of drug abuse, noting that his son had struggled with drugs before becoming clean for a number of years.
Gibilisco has served as a commissioner on the seven-member Redevelopment Agency since late 2016. In a brief interview after last night’s meeting, he said it’s unsure yet whether he must or will resign that seat. State law can prohibit certain representatives to serve on both the Redevelopment Agency and Parking Authority but it’s unclear whether more than one council representative can serve on the agency. First Ward Councilman Rodney Farrar also is a redevelopment commissioner.
Democrats have held all nine seats on the governing body and the mayor’s office since 2009. All are considered part-time positions with annual salaries of about $8,000 for council members and $72,000 for the mayor’s seat.
The 6th Ward encompasses the western part of town along the Clark border, from Lake Avenue to the south to Rahway River Park on the north and up to the hospital, crossing over St. Georges Avenue for only a couple of blocks around Roosevelt Elementary School. The 6th Ward seat was last held by a Republican in 2004 and the last time the GOP held a seat on the governing body was the 2nd Ward in 2008.
Nominating petitions to run in the June primary are due April 2. Independent candidates must file by the day after the primary to run in the November General Election.