City Council will choose from among three people nominated by the Rahway Democratic Committee this week to fill the vacant 6th Ward City Council seat for the remainder of this year. The three nominees are:
- Joseph Gibilisco of William Young Drive
- Annette Heim of Beechwood Road
- Jeff Robinson of Stanton Street
The appointment is expected to go to Gibilisco, who was appointed in November 2016 to the Redevelopment Agency to fill the seat vacated after Egon Berhmann passed away. Prior to that he served for several years on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, giving up that seat after his Redevelopment Agency appointment. He is the owner, operator and manager of Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home on West Milton Avenue.
Robinson is secretary to the Democratic Committee and has served on the Planning Board of several years. Heim is a member of the Democratic Committee.
The vacancy in the 6th Ward was created after Ray Giacobbe, Jr. was appointed interim mayor for the remainder of the year. He will serve the rest of former Mayor Samson Steinman’s term and plans to run for election to a full four-year term this fall. Steinman stepped down on Dec. 24.
The Democratic Committee’s Executive Committee screened interested candidates Friday night before the 48-member municipal committee met Saturday to choose three nominees.
Democrats hold the 6th Ward seat — and the other eight council seats plus the mayor’s office — and had 15 days to present three nominees to City Council. The governing body then will have 15 days to choose among the trio. A special meeting is likely to be scheduled to approve the appointment as the next regularly scheduled meeting is not until Feb. 12.
UPDATED: City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. to approve an appointment, as well as other matters of business, including a PILOT agreement for a project slated at the site of the former Center Circle on Main Street.
The appointment will be for the remainder of this year, with the final two years of the four-year term up for election this November, at the same time as three At-Large City Council seats and the mayor’s seat are up.
All six Democratic incumbents for ward seats were unopposed in the 2016 election, winning full four-year terms, including Giacobbe. In 2014, he won the remaining two years on Steinman’s original term, defeating Republican John Koenig by a 56-44 percent margin. It’s one of the last seats to be held by the local GOP. Elyse Bochicchio Medved won the 6th Ward in 2000 but lost a re-election bid in 2004 to Steinman. Frank Janusz was the last Republican to hold a seat on the governing body. He did not seek re-election to his 2nd Ward seat in 2008.
The 6th Ward stretches across most of the city’s western boundary with Clark, encompassing the Milton Lake neighborhood up to Rahway River Park, but not much past the hospital and up to Lake Avenue on the south, only crossing St. Georges Avenue to include a few blocks around Roosevelt Elementary School.
Democrats outnumber unaffiliated voters and Republicans in each ward, with the smallest portion in the 6th Ward, at about 45 percent of registered voters, according to the county clerk’s office, while Republicans have their largest, 16 percent. Unaffiliated voters comprise about 37 percent to 39 percent of registered voters in each ward.
Citywide, almost 52 percent of the 17,743 registered voters are Democrats, 37 percent are unaffiliated and almost 11 percent are registered as Republican.