Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman will try to become state Assembly’s first Independent, in 25th District

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Winning a state legislative seat as a Democrat in Morris County is virtually impossible; over nearly four decades, it’s happened just once.

But going to Trenton as an Independent may be unheard of–from any legislative district.

Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman will try to make history with an Independent bid for Assembly in the 25th district, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by a sizable margin and Independents tend to side with the GOP.

 Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman is running for Assembly as an Independent. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman is running for Assembly as an Independent. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Rebecca, now in her sixth year as an Independent on the town council, filed her nominating petitions in Trenton at Tuesday’s deadline. She will face Republican incumbents Michael Patrick Carroll and Anthony M. Bucco in November.

“I’m not tied to the dogma of either party,” said the councilwoman, describing herself as “fiscally conservative but socially moderate.”

She was appointed to the planning board by a Republican mayor and now supports many redevelopment initiatives of a Democratic administration.

In 2005, Rebecca managed Scott Whitenack’s  Independent campaign for mayor, which garnered 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race. A year later, she helped organize grassroots efforts to repeal a mayoral raise and oppose a 10-story firehouse/EMS building. She also lobbied for an anti-pay-to-play ordinance.

After the December 2012 massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, CT, she co-founded the Morris Area Committee to Reduce Gun Violence.  Rebecca and her husband have two teenaged daughters.

The councilwoman graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. She got involved in local issues by representing neighbors in the Washington’s Headquarters Neighborhood Association.

Municipal taxes have gone down for three straight years during her council tenure, and First Ward voters re-elected her in 2011 with 82 percent of the vote, she said.

As far as she knows, victory would make her New Jersey’s first Independent in the Legislature, and only the 13th Independent nationwide to serve in a statehouse.

It’s a big “if.”

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll has served 16 years in the Assembly and hopes to continue the streak. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll has served 16 years in the Assembly and hopes to continue the streak. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Michael Patrick Carroll, a Morris Township resident who describes himself as “New Jersey’s Most Conservative Legislator,”  is a veteran of 18 years in the Assembly.

“I wish her luck,” said the Assemblyman, who described Rebecca as a Democrat.

“The reason they’re doing it this way is because the Democrats didn’t bother to find two candidates to run,” Michael said.

Anthony M. Bucco, the son of state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25th Dist.), has served in the Assembly since 2009. He is a Boonton Township resident and, like his Assembly colleague, is a lawyer.

In addition to Morristown and Morris Township, the district encompasses Boonton Town, Boonton Township,  Denville, Dover, Mine Hill , Mount Arlington, Mountain Lakes, Randolph, Rockaway Borough, Roxbury, Victory Gardens and Wharton in Morris County.

A redistricting two years ago shifted Jefferson and Rockaway Township to the 26th District, and added the solidly Republican towns of Chester, Chester Township, Mendham Township, Washington Township, and the Somerset County municipality of Bernardsville.

It looks some other Independents have the same idea: Jack Curtis of Mendham also is running in the 25th District. In all, 11 unaffiliated or Libertarian candidates have filed in legislative races across the state.

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