'Jud' Colicchio was a mayor.
In new city, he
runs a year ahead.
Pat "Jud" Colicchio quit politics in Wanaque, N.J., after nearly five decades of elections that ended in 1998 with a second failed attempt to win back the mayor's office.
Four years after losing that race to a long-time rival and two years after moving out of Wanaque borough for the first time in his
75 years, the Democrat wants back into politics.
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"After the last election, I found out there was nothing for me to do there," Colicchio
said of his
hometown."I wanted to go and start in a new place."He's
trying to win votes in Easton the same way he
always has - shaking hands and buying beers.
That method first got him elected in 1950 to the Democratic committee in Wanaque and later to regional and local school boards, planning commission, council and finally to the mayor's office in 1982.He also held political patronage jobs most of his life, retiring as a supervisor from the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission 20 years ago and afterward working in a maintenance job with the North Jersey Water Supply Commission.His
political career ended in several well-publicized blunders that included making slurs against Asian Indians, disparaging AIDS patients and being arrested for failing to report his
$2,500-a-year mayor's salary while collecting unemployment benefits after he
was laid off from his
maintenance job in 1985.
Those missteps cost him his
popularity among Wanaque's 10,000 residents, who rejected him at the polls for a second term as mayor in 1986, for a council seat in 1988, and finally when he
ran for mayor a third time in 1998.
Colicchio wants to keep those incidents from influencing Easton's voters by addressing them now rather than later in his
believes the 1985 arrest, for which he
was placed on six months' probation, was politically motivated.And, he
said, the comment on Indians and statements about AIDS patients were taken out of context during his
1988 campaign for council.
political foes in Wanaque consider his
candidacy for mayor of Easton
to be almost laughable, some in Wanaque still consider him to be a formidable opponent."Unfortunately, sometimes he speaks out, and he says things that are not politically correct," said Edward Landry, who served on Wanaque's council while Colicchio was mayor in the 1980s.
...Colicchio, who retired as a foreman with the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, has pledged to put up $10,000 of his own money to run for mayor in Easton.
"I have the money to run," said Colicchio
, who produced a bank statement showing his
account has more than $60,000."I spend $40 a day just going into barrooms and buying drinks" for other people.His
bank statement doesn't seem to fit his
rents a third-floor apartment in the 1400 block of Washington Street.
already has begun spending on his
campaign, more serious candidates, including Republican incumbent Mayor Thomas F. Goldsmith, mull their options.Colicchio
has to get his
name out early because he
doesn't have the name recognition of Goldsmith or some of the other Easton
politicians considering a run for the nearly $70,000-a-year post.
So far, Colicchio
has contacted at least 1,000 of Easton
's 25,000 residents by handing out business cards introducing himself as the former mayor of Wanaque
and as a mayoral candidate in Easton.
Overwhelmingly, the reaction to his
business cards has been to locate Wanaque
on a map and then question whether Colicchio
actually served there as mayor.
gave it to someone who gave it to me because they thought it was a joke," Goldsmith said of Colicchio's card."It turns out, he's
decided to run for mayor because he
believes the city has the potential to be a quaint tourist town like New Hope, but he
doesn't see enough being done to promote businesses, provide recreation for youth or attack the drug problem.
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