Clinton, Coleman Gain PCDO Endorsements

Hillary Clinton received the PCDO endorsement to be the Democratic candidate for President of the United States at a meeting held on Sunday, February 21st. The vote for Secretary Clinton came after votes to approve Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as endorsements for Diane Gerofsky as Mercer County Surrogate and Andrew Koontz and Anthony Verrelli for the two Mercer County Freeholder seats that are up for election this year.


Characterizing her first term in the House as dealing with “difficult times, in a difficult Congress, but under a great President,” Rep. Coleman described her work for the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Homeland Security Committee. In this post, she is the ranking Democrat of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency that reviews the department’s operations. The biggest challenge in Congress, according to Coleman, is making sure the rights that Republicans are trying to erode remain available to everyone, even “the lost, the last, and the least.” “This Republican-controlled Congress is trying to take us back to another era,” she stated, “so we need to work to increase the Democratic caucus.”


Turning to the County races, Diane Gerofsky explained the workings of the Surrogate Court, including their responsibilities regarding wills and estates, adoptions, and acting as the custodian of funds awarded to minors through inheritances or insurance policies. Among the duties is the obligation to ensure that the monies are invested safely until their disbursement. Gerofsky was first elected as Surrogate in 1996 and is running for her fifth five-year term.


Incumbent Freeholder Andrew Koontz is seeking his third term in office and outlined the important economic drivers for Mercer County, including the need for a new terminal for the Trenton-Mercer Airport in order to increase capacity and meet stringent Homeland Security regulations. Also high on the Freeholders’ agenda for the year is a decision on how to deal with the continuing problem of overcrowding at the county jail. Koontz outlined a recent plan to utilize more modern facilities in a cooperative agreement with Hudson County, but “We need to consider all the ramifications for the jail workers and the families of the prisoners” before coming to a decision. Finally, he passed along the thanks of retiring Freeholder Anthony Carabelli, the longest tenured Freeholder in Mercer County history, who is stepping down after four decades in office.


Running for the seat being vacated by Freeholder Carabelli is Anthony Verrelli, who also spoke to the group to seek its endorsement. Although new to elective politics, Verrelli talked about his experiences as Vice Chair of the Mercer County Improvement Authority as well as his positions with the Mercer County Planning Board and the Ewing Township Board of Adjustment. A native of Pennington, Verrelli described Mercer County as “the best county to work, live, and raise a family” and pledged to bring “integrity and vision” to the position. A carpenter by trade and Senior Council representative of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, Verrelli described a program he created that helps ex-offenders gain training for careers in carpentry.


Coleman, Gerofsky, Koontz, and Verrelli were all endorsed by acclamation.


In the evening’s only contested race for U.S. President, Craig Garcia of the PCDO Executive Board and Grace Strom Power from the West Windsor Democratic Club debated the merits of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Power, who also serves as Co-Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee Women’s Caucus, touted Clinton as a “pragmatic progressive” who can actually achieve progress. Describing Clinton as “the most qualified candidate for the office in my lifetime,” Power related how her kindergarten-aged daughter couldn’t believe that there has never been “a girl President.”

Garcia noted Sanders’ support from the Working Families Party and indicated that, just as important as the issues of economic fairness Sanders’ promotes on the campaign trail, the real motivation for many of Sanders’ followers is to revive “small d grassroots democracy.” “The people now in their twenties and thirties have more education than any previous generation and are the first generation of Americans to have fewer opportunities than their parents,” Garcia explained.


Needing 60% of the member votes cast in order to gain the endorsement, Clinton achieved the nod with a comfortable margin by capturing 68% of the 41 votes cast.


In the evening’s final agenda item, member Dosier Hammond presented a resolution to support additional affordable housing and applauds the municipality’s efforts to meet its obligations. The resolution was passed unanimously.


Next Meeting: Endorsement Night for Princeton Races, including Mayor and Council

Date: Sunday, March 20th.


Please Note: Only Princeton residents with up-to-date membership status as of March 6th will be eligible to vote at this meeting.


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