Ogdensburg hosts candidates night


PUBLISHED OCT 10, 2018 AT 2:16 PM (UPDATED OCT 10, 2018)

OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Historical Society hosted its annual “Candidates' Night”, Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Ogdensburg Firehouse. Fourteen candidates spoke to a standing room only hall.

Candidates Mikie Sherrill (D), Jay Webber (R), Ryan Martinez (L), and Robert Crook (I) campaigned for the one seat, two-year term in the 11th Congressional District.

Sussex County Surrogate Gary Chiusano (R) and Candidate William Hart (D) sought the one seat, five-year term for Sussex County Surrogate.

Candidates Dawn Fantasia (R), Joshua Hertzberg (R), Patrick Curreri (D), Howard Zatkowsky (D), and Wayne Levante (I) campaigned for the two, three-year Sussex County Freeholder seats. 

Uncontested Ogdensburg Mayoral candidate George Hutnick introduced himself and addressed the crowd. 

Ogdensburg council candidates David Astor (R), Rachel Slater (R), and Peter Huhn (D) seek the two Council seats, three-year terms. Astor spoke and introduced himself to the crowd. 

Uncontested candidates Brendan Donegan and Sue Dolan are running for the two seats on the Ogdensburg Board of Education. Donegan spoke and asked for the borough residents' support.

Moderator and Ogdensburg Historical Society President John F. Kibildis reminded attendees each Congressional candidate has position papers on many of today's issues. 

During discussion, Webber said, the economy is booming, with GDP growth over 4 percent last quarter; unemployment at a nearly 50 year low; wages and small business confidence rising; and potential private sector choice and competition in health insurance. He asked, why change course? 

Sherrill said she would fight hard to get back the state and local tax deduction (SALT) and for quality and affordable health care for everybody. She also said she would work toward federal grants for high speed internet and a rail system into Sussex County. 

Martinez spoke against politicians who write laws sending New Jersey money to Washington, but then say they will return and “get some of that money back for you.” In addition, he said, champions of the tax cuts did not cut spending, and the government debt is $21 trillion. 

Crook said the economy may be booming in other parts of the country, but not in New Jersey due to the most expensive taxes and living expenses. As a CPA, he clarified, with the SALT tax, most N.J. tax payers now receive savings on federal tax, because the standard deduction was doubled, and most people do not need to pay the alternative minimum tax anymore. 

“We cannot blame the tax problems of New Jersey,” he said, “on the federal government. New Jersey has to take responsibility and fix its own problems.” 

Asked about climate change, Crook said the Clean Air Act reduced carbon emissions by 60 percent, and New Jersey needs to diversify and cooperate with P.A., W.V., O.H., I.N., and I.L. - also part of First Energy's power grid. Therefore, he said, New Jersey needs a long-term capital plan for energy and all the infrastructure projects - including cyber-security. 

Sherrill said, New Jersey needs to look at wind power off-shore, because the state has the best conditions and the cost is going down. For environment and economy, she added, New Jersey needs to be one of the first investors. She, too, agreed with a long-term plan. 

When asked about term limits, Crook recommended term limits related to a person's age; Martinez said, not age, but two terms for the House and Senate; Sherrill said, the Democratic party needs to consider term limits, as already seen in the Republican party's committee chairmen term limits, which create movement and vibrancy in Congress; Webber supported term limits and said he had already submitted a N.J. Assembly term limit bill. 

Chiusano and Hart disputed the costs of opening satellite offices throughout the county versus the already existing outreach and Senior programs. 

Fantasia, Hertzberg, Curreri, Zatkowsky, and Levante discussed strengthening county services and not raising taxes. All agreed things need to change at the county level – including financial accountability, transportation, and economic development. 

Responding to what differentiates each candidate from each other, Levante said, he was a strong conservative candidate, who will speak on behalf of everyone. 

Zatkowsky said, he was a fiscal conservative, social liberal — and proud of it.

Hertzberg said, his life experiences — government, private sector, and local government — set him apart from some of the others. 

Carreri said they were more alike than different: Sussex County people first - Americans first.

Fantasia said she is a constitutional conservative, with family values, respectful, kind, fiscally conservative, and always puts tax payers first. 

Ogdensburg Councilman Michael Nardini read a statement from Mayor Rachel Slater. Elizabethtown Gas has begun Phase 2, and the project is scheduled to finish by the end of Nov. In addition, Nardini said, the mayor and council have decided to participate in the vial of life project – which alerts first responders of residents' medical information in an emergency.

GOP challengers oust 2 freeholders

By Katie Moen New Jersey Herald

Posted: Jun. 6, 2018 12:05 am

Republican challengers Dawn Fantasia and Joshua Hertzberg defeated incumbent Freeholders Carl Lazzaro and Jonathan Rose on Tuesday for their party's nomination for two, three-year terms on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Fantasia and Hertzberg, who ran together, took the Republican nominations with 6,511 and 5,957 votes, respectively, in unofficial totals. Lazzaro and Rose, who also ran as a team, ended the night with counts of 3,911 and 3,855 respectively.

"When you look at Sparta and you look at Franklin, you might think we're coming from two different places," Fantasia said, taking a moment to thank those who supported the pair throughout the campaign. "The truth is, we all bleed red, and we all want the same things. No matter what part of the county you're from, we will move forward with your best interests at heart."

The four Republican candidates gathered under one roof on Tuesday to await the election results at the Irish Cottage Inn in Franklin, though Rose and Lazzaro left to attend another party event shortly before the final election results were in.

From the early days of the campaign season, local elected representatives including state Sen. Steve Oroho, Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, and Sheriff Michael Strada came forward to endorse the challengers.

All three officials were present for Tuesday's election gathering, along with about 150 party supporters.

"I'm very happy with the way this primary turned out," Oroho said. "I decided to support Dawn and Josh because I honestly believe that they will work incredibly hard to do the right thing for the people of Sussex County."

Though no Democrats filed to run in the primary, voters will still have a decision to make come November.

On Friday, The Sussex County Democratic Committee announced two write-in candidates: Patrick Curreri, 39, of Vernon, and Howard Zatkowsky, 73, of Hardyston.

Curreri and Zatkowsky, who each need 100 write-ins to qualify for a space on the general election, spent Tuesday night at Bell's Mansion in Stanhope.

Though official write-in tallies will not be available until later in the week, Curreri said Tuesday night that both he and Zatkowsky were feeling "very positive."

"Right now, we're just happy to be a part of this race," Curreri said. "We'll have to see how everything turns out, but we have been seeing a lot of good support from people around the county."

To make matters even more interesting, Newton Mayor Wayne Levante announced Tuesday morning that he had filed a petition on Monday with the county clerk's office to run as an independent candidate in November.

Levante, who was elected to the Newton Town Council in 2014 and appointed to serve as mayor last year, lost his bid for re-election to a second four-year term during Newton's May municipal election.

In March, Levante faced censure and a vote of no confidence by the other four members of the Newton Council after sharing a controversial social media posting in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting.

The council charged at the time that Levante had "exhibited inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" in the opinion of the majority of the Council, by engaging in "conduct unbecoming of a mayor in his interaction with the public and at Council meetings that reflects negatively on the Town of Newton as a whole."

Levante voted against his own censure and refused to resign as mayor.

"The residents of Sussex County deserve better than just standard rhetoric like transparency, accountability and 'change.' Our community has serious issues plaguing our lives and wallets that need to be addressed strongly and immediately," Levante said in the press release, which listed his platform as one based "on the core Republican principles of smaller, limited government."

In August of last year, Levante met with elected officials from around the area to discuss the possibility of county-wide school consolidation.

"School consolidation is by far the biggest issue of our generation and one that I have taken the lead on despite nasty retaliation by those who have much to lose," Levante said in the release. "With declining enrollments and increasing costs, Sussex County residents are being priced out of their homes. I've shown that I have the backbone to confront these issues, and ones like them, head-on without wavering. We simply can no longer afford status quo."

Fantasia, 44, has been a Sussex County resident for 30 years. She is the current president of the Franklin Borough Council and a former member of the Franklin Planning Board, Zoning Board and Sussex County Republican Committee.

"I've worked in urban education for the past 10 years as both an educator and executive team member in public charter school districts, where we are accustomed to funding inequities and doing a lot with very little," said Fantasia, a school principal at the Bergen Arts and Science Charter School. "Lack of fair school funding is also crippling Sussex County; I have testified in Trenton multiple times regarding equitable school funding."

Fantasia ran on a platform that highlighted fiscal transparency, prioritized spending and communication as major areas of importance for Sussex County residents.

"(We need to) listen to what municipal leaders need for their respective communities, and do not micromanage the towns or the county employees," Fantasia said in her campaign bio. "Our biggest asset in the county is our human capital, and county government must steward a vision of unity, respect, and true servant leadership."

Hertzberg, 43, was appointed as the mayor of Sparta in January. His resume includes stints working for the Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Border Control and Homeland Security. He is currently the director of business operations for the International Longshoremen's Association.

"As a Sparta councilman, and now mayor, we have lowered taxes, almost eliminated debt, earned a top credit rating all while increasing services to our residents," Hertzberg said in a campaign bio submitted to the New Jersey Herald. "I have a proven track record of making sound financial decisions, as well as life and death decisions as a federal agent. I will use all of this experience to make the right decisions for the Sussex County residents."

Hertzberg listed fiscal responsibility and better communication with local governing bodies as two of his key platform issues.

"We wouldn't be here without the support of everyone in this room," Hertzberg said Tuesday. "We still have some work to do, but the fact that we made it this far means that it has all already been worth it."

Crass buffoonery has no place in party

PUBLISHED MAY 22, 2018 AT 12:21 PM (UPDATED MAY 22, 2018)

Campaigns are interesting things.

Throughout the process, my opponents' supporters have labeled me a "political prostitute", "pimping" a message as a "spokesperson". I've been in a public meeting when referred to as a "lackey" who "belongs in a cage like the animal you are".

It's been said directly to me by a currently-elected county official and those in his circle that my name "sounds like you should be dancing on a pole."

And last: that "you don't belong in MY Republican party."

This is a display of crass buffoonery.

If you know anything about me, you know that in my life, I've overcome significant obstacles and raised three outstanding children as a single parent. I've been a teacher, mentor, volunteer, advocate, and a school principal in a public charter school, empowering students and families to believe that with hard work and discipline, anything is possible. 

I fully support — and am supported by — those who also want to strengthen our infrastructure while protecting the most vulnerable: our seniors, veterans, and children. I'm a fierce advocate of our police and first responders; I've made it a priority to ensure those who protect us have adequate staffing and resources to do their jobs with fidelity. 

I support a strong, skilled workforce, and above all, our taxpayers. I'm proud of my record of fiscally-conservative spending, differentiating needs vs. wants, and I'm secure in my own moral compass, knowing the decisions I've made are good and right. 

My personal experience and interactions with the Republican party have been logical, principled, and based upon mutual respect. That is the Republican party I know in Sussex County. Regrettably, I cannot say that sentiment applies to my direct experiences with my opposition. 

I don't belong in "your" Republican party?

Gentlemen, you don't belong in mine.

Dawn Fantasia

Republican Candidate for Sussex County Freeholder

Franklin Borough Council President

Support for Fantasia and Hertzberg for Freeholder


May 8, 2018 at 12:44 PM

Dear Editor:

dawn josh thumbnail.png

My name is Stephen Skellenger, and I’m writing what is my first Letter to the Editor to emphatically endorse Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder. With these two, you are going to get uniquely-qualified individuals who exemplify servant leadership.

Josh is someone who seems to me to be a person who would give the shirt off his back to help anyone. That’s something that is sorely missing in politics today. We have too many individuals who forget that they were elected to serve the public, not the other way around. Josh is a strong fiscal conservative who will be able to use his experience as Mayor of Sparta and as a federal agent to tackle the problems that face Sussex County.

Dawn is one of the most dedicated public servants this county has ever seen. I have had the pleasure of being Dawn’s past running mate and serving alongside her for the past two years on the Franklin Borough Council. Honestly, there isn’t someone I feel is more qualified to serve on Freeholder Board. While serving on the Franklin Council, she has been an integral part of ensuring that our municipal tax rate has either declined or stayed at zero, and I strongly believe that she will be able to replicate this at the county level. Dawn is someone that will not back away from a fight and will always do the right thing. She’s not in this for anything else but to improve the lives of every single Sussex County resident.

On June 5th, I ask that you join me in supporting Fantasia and Hertzberg for Freeholder.  They will absolutely serve the residents with an honest, respectful, and fiscally conservative approach to eliminate wasteful county spending.

Stephen Skellenger

Franklin Borough


I am a Councilman in Franklin Borough and the Vice Chairman of the Sussex County Young Republicans, These opinions are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the above mentioned organizations.

Fantasia and Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholders

PUBLISHED MAY 7, 2018 AT 2:27 PM (UPDATED MAY 7, 2018)

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I am truly blessed to have lived in Sussex County for nearly twenty years. I’ve always been amazed at the caliber of people who call Sussex County their home. Despite our differences, whatever they may be, the recurring theme I have seen recently is concern for the future of Sussex County. I share that concern which is why I am proud to be voting for Dawn Fantasia and Joshua Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder on June 5th. 

I am lucky enough to call Dawn and Josh friends of mine and I am confident that they are the right people for this job. Dawn is a school principal, the Franklin Borough Council President and a loving mother. Josh is a businessman, the Mayor of Sparta and a proud husband and father. Their records of public service are equally impressive as they’ve both used true conservative principles, in the face of adversity, to triumphantly play a vital role in making both of their communities better places to live, work and play. 

Dawn and Josh are the right candidates when it comes to fiscal responsibility and transparency. Their leadership styles, though different, revolve around listening before taking action which should be required when it comes to county leadership. They understand the importance of enhancing services for our seniors and veterans. They recognize the need for communication and sustainable, long range planning to reduce and stabilize taxation. 

Sussex County deserves the very best from our county leadership which is why I ask you to join me in voting for Dawn Fantasia and Joshua Hertzberg for Sussex County Freeholder on June 5th. I am excited for both what they accomplish and the positive impact it will have on the future of our home, Sussex County. 

Anthony Fasano




March 11, 2018 at 1:20 PM

Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   

Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and Assemblyman Wirths announced on Friday that they have instructed the Office of Legislative Services in Trenton to draft legislation requiring the use of bullet-proof security doors and other measures to make classrooms safe to protect the students and teachers who learn and work there.  The two candidates issued the following statements:

Dawn Fantasia, current Council President in Franklin, said:  "Multi-faceted safety and security protocol and procedures must also be supported by facilities that are structurally reinforced.  This is an often-overlooked component yet is paramount to keeping students and staff members safe in a crisis situation. As both an educator and a parent, I am glad to see this point brought to the table for not only discussion but also action by our legislators in district 24 ". 

Josh Hertzberg, the Mayor of Sparta, noted: “In lieu of having a trained officer on premise to address any possible threats, I believe taking measures to buy faculty and students time for trained officers to arrive is the next best thing.  I think the concept put forth by Senator Oroho, Assemblymen Space, and Assemblymen Wirths takes into consideration both safety and security, as well as the budgetary constraints that some districts may face. I applaud our Sussex County leadership for their thoughtful lawmaking, especially as it pertains to our most valuable resource, our children.” 

The two Republicans said that if elected to the Freeholder board, they would bring greater cooperation and communication between the county, our schools and law enforcement organizations.  For more information, visit their campaign website at www.DawnandJoshforFreeholder.com

Paid for by Fantasia for Freeholder PO Box 531, Franklin, NJ 07416 & Hertzberg for Freeholder PO Box 123, Sparta, NJ 07871

Fantasia, Hertzberg launch freeholder run

By David Danzis New Jersey Herald

Posted: Feb. 11, 2018 12:01 am

Two Republican municipal elected officials are going forward with their campaign to run for seats on the Sussex County freeholder board, and the duo already has the backing of three state lawmakers and the county sheriff.

Franklin Borough Council President Dawn Fantasia and Sparta Mayor Josh Hertzberg announced on Friday that they would be filing the necessary paperwork this week to begin a joint campaign for two, three-year terms on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The announcement from Fantasia and Hertzberg also stated that state Sen. Steven Oroho, Assemblyman Parker Space and Assemblyman Hal Wirths -- three Republicans who represent the 24th Legislative District -- and Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada would be hosting a fundraising event for the campaign.

Oroho, a former county freeholder and Franklin Borough council member, said he has known Fantasia and Hertzberg for a number of years.

"I like their career experiences, community service, and energetic styles," he said on Saturday via text. "I look forward to them bringing new ideas, a fresh perspective, their fiscal discipline and transparency to the freeholder board."

Wirths said he worked with Fantasia and Hertzberg during his 2017 campaign and came away with a sense that the two would be good representatives for Sussex County. Wirths, who spent close to a decade on the freeholder board before being appointed state labor commissioner in 2010, said the duo possessed a trait that he felt was important at the county level.

"They listen to the people," Wirths said of Fantasia and Hertzberg.

"To be a good freeholder you have to listen to the people, listen to the great staff the county has. There's a lot of tough issues facing the county and I think they can move some of that behind us."

Space, who also served on the freeholder board after being appointed to the seat vacated by Wirths in 2010, lent his support to Fantasia and Hertzberg on Saturday.

"I am supporting Dawn and Josh because I have witnessed their dedication to their residents in their respective towns," Space said via email. "They have strong conservative values and the drive to help the taxpayers of Sussex County. While Governor (Phil) Murphy has promised to raise taxes on the already suffering people of New Jersey, I know Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg will do what they can to ease that burden in our county."

Fantasia and Hertzberg will be running in the Republican primary against two incumbents, Sussex County Freeholder Director Jonathan Rose and Freeholder Carl Lazzaro, who ran together in 2015.

On Saturday, Rose said neither the entry of challengers into the race nor who supports them will change the campaign he and Lazzaro are going to run.

"It impacts the race insofar as it shows early in the race whose side everyone is on," he said. Rose later added, "We're going to run a race based on our accomplishments and we're not going to forget that we hold these seats thanks to the electorate, not thanks to political insiders."

Lazzaro echoed his running mate's sentiments and said their campaign would be focused on the positives that have been accomplished in the last three years, such as the hiring of a qualified county administrator, consolidating county departments to cut costs and executing labor contracts with county employees that keep salaries and benefits under control.

"We've done a lot of great things," he said.

"We're going to run a positive campaign based on that."

The deadline for Republican and Democrats to file for the Primary Election is April 2.

New Jersey's primary elections will be held on June 5.

David Danzis can also be contacted on Facebook: ddanzisNJH, on Twitter: @ddanzisNJH, or by phone: 973-383-1274.