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Eric Urbano Drops Congressional Bid
To Run for Clerk By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
SCOTCH PLAINS — After gaining party support at a screening before the Union County Republican Committee Monday night, Eric Urbano of Scotch Plains has pulled out of the Seventh District Congressional race to run for Union County Clerk.
Mr. Urbano told The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood last week that he received a call from GOP County Chairman Frank X. McDermott asking him to run for clerk.
Confirming his unanimous selection by the party when reached for comment yesterday, he told The Leader and Times,
“We are going ahead 110 percent.”
“I think Union County residents deserve a county clerk that will treat the office with the integrity it deserves,” he said.
The Union County Republican Committee will select candidates to run on the county line at the GOP convention on Saturday, April 1.
If he gains the nomination in June, he will face Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, the first woman ever elected to serve in that role.
Ms. Rajoppi, who previously served in the now defunct office of Registrar, was elected to her first fiveyear term as Clerk in 1995. She is also a former Mayor of Springfield.
Mr. Urbano said he will not be endorsing any of the remaining six Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for the Seventh Congressional seat at this time, noting that he feels all the individuals are strong candidates to represent the party in the November General Election.
The Union County Republican Committee will hold its convention to officially pick candidates to run in
the June 6 Primary on Saturday, April 1. Candidates will be selected for U. S. Senate, Congress, County Clerk and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Mr. Urbano, 27, will receive his law degree from the New York School of Law this spring. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Montclair State University.
While interning at a New York City law firm, Mr. Urbano worked on
cases involving constitutional, tax, civil rights and immigration policies.
With Mr. Urbano’s exit from the Congressional race, the GOP field is down to six candidates: Tom Kean Jr., the son of former Governor Thomas H. Kean; Assemblyman Joel Weingarten of Millburn (R21st); 1998 District Six GOP nominee, Michael Ferguson of Warren; former House Commerce Committee Counsel, Patrick Morrisey of Westfield; former Woodbridge City Council President and former fire chief, Ken Gardner; and Green Brook Mayor Patricia Walsh.
Democrats seeking their party’s nomination are Union County Manager Michael Lapolla of Westfield; former Fanwood Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly, the 1998 District 7 nominee; Westfield Civil Rights attorney Joel Farley, and Warren Township Committeeman Jeff Golkin. The crowded field was created when Republican Congressman Bob Franks of Berkeley Heights opted to run for the U. S. Senate seat being vacated by Frank Lautenberg, coupled by Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger’s decision not to run for the open seat.
New Jersey’s Primary is Tuesday, June 6. The winners will face off in the General Election on Tuesday, November 7.
Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader and The Times FIESTA!… Kim Ford’s kindergarten class at Wilson Elementary School in Westfield held a fiesta in the classroom in culmination to their unit study of Mexico. The children studied the geography, the culture, and traditions of the Mexican people. The children created serapes, learned traditional songs and ate traditional foods including quesadillas. Pictured, left to right, are: kindergartners Abigail Robertson, Marilyn Kowalski and Sarah Ramire. Marilyn is wearing a traditional costume from Mexico. Blockbuster Video and UnionBased Jeweler Top List
Of Stores Coming to Westfield’s Business District By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
WESTFIELD – Coming on the heels of 10 new stores joining Westfield’s downtown in 1999, Blockbuster Video has signed a lease to fill street level retail space in the PaineWebber building currently under construction on the site of the former Wyckoff’s steak house on North Avenue.
Blockbuster, with world headquarters in Dallas, Tex., operates 7,100 stores in the United States. It offers a wide assortment of movies on videocassette, video games and digital video discs.
Anthony Schilling of Relocation Realty, who brokered the deal, said the video franchise will occupy retail space in front of the building. Five spaces in the parking lot alongside the building will be designated for Blockbuster customers. Blockbuster joins West Coast Video which has two stores in town.
“We certainly think they will be a welcome addition to the downtown and we wish them success,” said Debbie Schmidt, Executive Director of the Westfield Area of Commerce.
Blockbuster, which also has a store on South Avenue in Cranford, joins a number of new additions in the downtown.
Mr. Schilling said he also has a number of deals pending to fill vacant storefront space in the town.
“We are talking to a lot of national tenants,” he said.
Another new eatery, AJ’s, a coffee and sandwich shop, will occupy the former home of the J& M Café. Ms. Schmidt noted that AJ’s, which operates a store in Summit, offers breakfast and lunch including sandwiches, salads as well as baked goods.
La Crema Gelatoe Caffe will be opening soon at 112 Quimby Street, the former space of jeweler Thomas D. Cherin who has moved to a Mountain Avenue address.
Elm Street Café has opened on Elm Street in the former space of the Elm Delicatessen and Backroom Antiques.
Success Express, a store selling aromatherapy oils, candles, incense and specialty gifts, is opening at 57 Elm Street, the former home of Poppyfield’s. The store moved to Westfield from Scotch Plains.
Poppyfield’s has, in turn, doubled its retail space in its new home at 116 Elm Street. The store specializes in
home decorating for children’s rooms.
Mr. Schilling also brokered the deals for Success Express and Poppyfield’s.
In addition, he noted that Badis Jewelers, located in Union for the past 15 years, will be moving into half of the 57 Elm Street. The other half of the storefront will be occupied by Success Express.
Westfield Podiatry will be moving into space in the Central Square Mall on Central Avenue. Also moving into the mall are Allstate and, as previously reported by The Leader and
The Times, Aberson Narotzky & White. Aberson specializes in promotional items for major corporations, companies and advertising agencies. An electrical union will also be moving into the mall. That, however, is still pending.
Mr. Schilling, who brokered these deals, also negotiated the sale of 190 Elm Street, which was the site of Westfield attorney William Butler’s office, to Hudson Physical Therapy Group, and 220 Lenox Street to Dr. David D. Bullek and Dr. Albert Thower.
Other recent additions to Westfield’s downtown include Evalyn Dunn’s, an art gallery and fine arts business at 549 South Avenue, located across from the Town Bank of Westfield and the Westfield Circle Antiques Center. Evalyn Dunn’s formerly was located on Cumberland Avenue.
Ms. Schmidt noted that business at Panera Bread, located in the former’s Auster’s Appliance space at 143 East Broad Street, “is just booming.” The café and bakery sells freshbaked goods and offers soups and sandwiches for takeout or eaton premise.
Another popular new addition to Westfield’s downtown is Gourmet Baskets and Gifts on Elm Street. Also, the CBL Fine Art store, located in a section of the building occupied by Trader Joe’s specialty store, has been said to be doing a brisk business.
The Papery, which opened last year on East Broad and Elm Streets, offering stationery, cards and gift wrapping, has a floor stock which Ms. Schmidt described as a “nice quality of merchandise.” The store is the site
of the former Garden Botanika, which closed last year after the chain filed for bankruptcy.
Trader Joe’s, whose Westfield location is its first and only store in New Jersey, has attracted a good deal of firsttime visitors to the town, Ms. Schmidt stated.
Lord & Taylor’s department store also announced plans recently to add a second floor to its building on North Avenue.
Meanwhile, Rialto Theatre, on East Broad Street, is a hotbed of activity during the evening and weekends since the theater’s new owner, Jesse Sayegh, President of CJM Entertainment, upgraded the circa 1922 town landmark and expanded the establishment to six screens.
Windmill, which opened next store to the theater in 1996, has also been
a big success story in town. The business, which offers such favorites as footlong hot dogs, California burgers and fries along with soups and beverages, is popular with lunch and early evening dinner crowds. Families often bring their children before matinee performances at the Rialto, Ms. Schmidt told The Leader
and The Times.
Michael La Place, Executive Director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation, said he has heard there is a lot of interest in space previously occupied by Bruegger’s Bagels on Central Avenue and the former Rafter’s woman’s clothing store on Quimby Street.
Looking at the business activity in the downtown, Ms. Schmidt commented, “The town is really booming.”
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)