CD-5 Flashpoint: ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’

VERNON — Mayor Howard Burrell is a pretty well-liked guy.

So popular, in fact, that Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Frank Pallotta, his Republican opponent in CD-5, enjoy hanging out with him.

Earlier last week, Pallotta opened up about attending the Sussex County Senior Olympics in Vernon. In a Facebook post, he mentioned interacting with a number of township officials, including Burrell, the mayor since January 2020. Vernon’s municipal government is bipartisan, although Burrell is a Democrat who served on the homeowners’ council / commissioners normally entirely republican. .

Pallotta’s Facebook page shows Pallotta and Burrell standing side by side with the mayor’s arm around the candidate’s shoulder.

This cozy little scene was apparently seen by the Gottheimer team.

Either by sheer coincidence or out of a desire to leave no doubt on which side Mayor Burrell is on, Gottheimer’s campaign said in a statement Friday the following:

“Today…Mayor Howard Burrell of Vernon Township in Sussex County endorsed Josh Gottherimer for Congress.”

Burrell praised Gottherimer’s “bipartisan approach”, saying the congressman had helped make Vernon and Sussex “an even better place to live”.

The mayor praised Gottheimer specifically for his fight against illegal dumping at Vernon Waste Mountain, promoting tourism, “recovering” federal money for local schools, and expanding broadband capacity.

The mayor’s statement, unsurprisingly, is in line with a central theme of Gottheimer’s campaign — that he’s working across the aisle to get things done and giving federal money back to the district. New Jersey, as most observers know, sends more federal tax dollars to Washington than it gets back in aid.

Gottheimer praised Burrell as an “incredible advocate” for the Vernon families.

Watch the policy for a while and it’s easy to get cynical about endorsements and what they really mean. All in all, the guess is that the endorsement of a sitting mayor — and a well-known political figure like Burrell — can likely do more good than harm.

Endorsement notwithstanding, Sussex isn’t exactly friendly territory for Gottheimer, or for that matter any Democrat.

In 2020, Gottheimer lost Sussex to Pallotta by around 11,000 votes and Vernon by around 2,200.

The holder may need more endorsements.

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Jack L. Goldstein