The mayor of East Hanover, New Jersey, and all four members of the township council have switched from the Democrat to the Republican Party.
In a statement, Mayor Joseph Pannullo said that the party flip in a township of 11,105 people will be the best move to represent the constituents, deriding what he called the “nastiness” on social media that further drives a wedge between voters.
“Municipal leaders have a responsibility to best represent their constituents, and it is our belief this change of party is in the best interest of the community,” said Pannullo, as reported by the New Jersey Globe.
“As the nastiness, rhetoric, and social media vitriol of national politics continues to infiltrate local governance, we collectively determined this was the best course of action to keep the focus on local issues impacting our community – combating the overburdening and unrealistic fair-share housing mandates, keeping taxes stable, enhancing our parks and investing in public safety needs to be our local priorities. Every decision my administration makes is about putting East Hanover first; this is no different,” he added.
Pannullo will be joined by Council President Frank DeMaio Jr, Councilwoman Carolyn Jandoli, and Councilmen Brian Brokaw Sr., and Michael Martorelli. Morris County GOP Chair Laura Marie Ali said the party welcomes the switch.
“The entire Republican Party in Morris County is welcoming Mayor Pannullo and East Hanover’s four Council members to our family with open arms and great excitement,” Ali said. “East Hanover is an exceptionally run town with great leadership. It is clear we share the same values as Mayor Pannullo and his Council and we are so excited to have them be part of our Republican family.”
East Hanover Republican municipal chair, former Councilwoman Sue Tietjen, shared Ali’s sentiments.
“We will work together moving East Hanover forward,” she said.
Assistant Senate Minority Leader Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville), whose district includes East Hanover, said all transplanted Democrats are welcome in the party.
“Whether you are a lifelong Republican or a transplanted Democrat such as me, you are immediately welcomed and accepted without hesitation,” said Pennacchio. “I look forward to working with my new Republican friends to make East Hanover an even better place to live.”
While New Jersey boasts a Democrat governor and still leans relatively left with two Democrat senators, the Garden State did see a significant shift rightward in 2021 when Republican Ed Durr, a trucker with virtually little political experience, defeated New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D). Durr’s win spelled trouble for Democrats who once thought New Jersey to be a guaranteed lock.