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Edison Dems to fill council seat

By Jacqueline Durett

EDISON — The dissention of the past year in the Edison Democratic Organization may be subsiding, according to newly reelected EDO Chairman Keith Hahn\.

Hahn, a township police officer, first secured the chairman position a year ago, followed by many months of infighting within the EDO. Those who were more closely aligned with longtime chairman Thomas “Doc” Paterniti, who retired from the EDO last year, saw Anthony Russomanno as the natural successor to Paterniti. Hahn snagged the chairman role after the third candidate for the post, Councilman Robert Diehl, threw his support behind Hahn.

However, at this year’s EDO reorganization on June 13, Hahn ran unopposed for his seat.

“It’s actually very peaceful right now,” Hahn said of the current tenor within the EDO. “I think we’re turning the corner.”

The immediate focus for the EDO is filling the open Township Council seat recently vacated by now-Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak. Following Karabinchak’s resignation earlier this month to take an Assembly seat, the EDO had 30 days to submit three names for consideration for the open council position.

Karabinchak’s seat is anticipated to be filled at the June 23 council meeting with one of the three selections from the EDO: Steve Nagel, Michael Comba and Joe Coyle.

Hahn said there were six applicants for the open position, which he said was less than he had expected. He added that he is not backing anyone in particular and would be happy with any of the three.

“It’s totally up to the council,” he said, explaining the council was conducting interviews with the candidates last week.

In a typical council vacancy, the party with the opening submits three names, with the intent that one of the names will be able to secure enough votes to win the seat. However, since there are no Republicans on the Edison council, there should be little objection to the selections at this week’s meeting.

Whoever is selected for the opening will be able to complete the balance of Karabinchak’s term; he would then need to run in a general election to retain the seat. Karabinchak was just reelected to a four-year seat last year.

Also retaining her role will be EDO counsel Bhavini Shah. In January, Hahn had notified Shah that because she had missed three consecutive EDO committee meetings, she had been terminated from the role. However, Shah sued to get the unpaid role back and won in March. Hahn said since the court decision was made so close to the reorganization meeting, he would let the EDO decide whether to retain her.

Hahn said following the filling of the council seat, he will shift his attention to the November general election.

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