McGee takes over as mayor in Northfield

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Gerald McGee is sworn as Mayor in by Northfield City Clerk Mary Canesi at the Feb. 4 meeting with his wife Nicola at his side. Gerald McGee is sworn as Mayor in by Northfield City Clerk Mary Canesi at the Feb. 4 meeting with his wife Nicola at his side. NORTHFIELD – Gerald McGee, 60, was elected mayor Tuesday, Feb. 4 by City Council, and David Devine was chosen as the new Ward 1 councilman. Both are Democrats.

McGee replaces former Mayor Vince Mazzeo, who resigned Jan. 13 to take a seat in the New Jersey Assembly. Devine replaces Frank Perri, who ran successfully for the at-large council seat while he still had another year left on his Ward 1 term.

The slate of candidates put up by the Democratic Committee for mayor consisted of McGee, Debbie Doherty and Guy Schlachter. For the Ward 1 seat the three candidates proposed by the committee were Devine, Dianna Lynn Perri and Paul Utts.

McGee, the owner of McLandscaping Inc., is a 20-year resident of Northfield. He ran for City Council in November and lost to incumbent Republican Greg Dewees for the Ward 2 council spot.

McGee was nominated for mayor by Dewees at Tuesday's meeting. Perri nominated Debbie Doherty, but the vote went 4-2 for McGee. Chau, Devine, Dewees and Piergiovanni voted for him, while Perri and Travagline cast their ballots for Doherty.

Perri defeated Jim O'Neill in November for the at-large seat formerly held by Tim Carew, who was not on the ballot in November. O'Neill has two years left on his Ward 2 seat. He began the meeting serving as the acting mayor because he was elected president pro tempore at the council reorganization in January, and that person assumes the duties of the mayor until the seat is filled

After McGee was sworn in by City Clerk Mary Canesi with his wife, Nicola, by his side, O'Neill returned to his duties as councilman.

The vote did not take long once both sides got past their differences over how the information on the six candidates would be shared. Perri, who is president of the Northfield Democratic Club, said he objected to how the information was gathered on the candidates, saying the questionnaire that had been initially agreed upon was to have five questions, and the one mailed to Perri had 10 questions.

"That was not how it was handled in 2013 when there was a Republican seat that had to be filled. With this questionnaire, it's like a double standard," Perri said, directing his comments to Council President Jim Travagline.

Travagline said he was trying to work with Perri and thought that was what the councilman preferred. The Democrats had answered the questionnaires and emailed them back to Travagline. The meeting was slated to allow each of the Democratic candidates an opportunity for an interview.

Perri said the candidates did not feel it was fair to have to answer the questions and then be interviewed at the meeting because that was not how it was handled a year ago when former Councilman Dennis Mahon filled the balance of a vacated Ward 1 council seat.

Both Doherty and Dianna Lynn Perri objected to having to do both the questions and interview. Doherty took exception to the question asking if she was a veteran if she had been honorably discharged. Another question asked if the candidates were on the board of trustees of any organization.

"I have lived here for more than 50 years, served one year on council and work in the city. You all know me, and I do not think it is fair to ask those questions," Doherty said.

After more than 30 minutes of back and forth by the Democrats and the Republicans, five candidates stood up and spoke for just a few minutes, and no questions were asked. Dianna Lynn Perri opted not to speak as a candidate because she spoke during the open session of the meeting and said that was sufficient.

McGee said he is a strong proponent of policies and procedures and added that had the city had a policy or procedure in place for this type of election there would have been no problems. He said that he has enjoyed the projects that he has been involved with in the city and promised to do the best job he can for the city.

"I want to thank everyone that supported me, and those who did not support me, I will work hard and do the best job for the city I can," he said.

Devine said he has been involved with Northfield All Sports in the past and done some volunteer concrete work and has enjoyed all of the projects. A 22-year resident of Northfield, he said he is really looking forward to being involved and helping the city.

Both Devine and McGee will have to run for their seats again in the November general election because by statute a candidate completing another's term can only hold that term until the next election unless they choose to run again.

Democrat Dave Devine is sworn in by Northfield City Clerk Mary Canesi at the Feb. 4 council meeting filling the Ward 1 seat vacated by Frank Perri. Devine originally lost the November General Election by 1 vote. Democrat Dave Devine is sworn in by Northfield City Clerk Mary Canesi at the Feb. 4 council meeting filling the Ward 1 seat vacated by Frank Perri. Devine originally lost the November General Election by 1 vote.


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