By ALAN KARMIN
WOODBRIDGE – The Woodbridge Township clerk’s office has certified nine people as candidates for the Primary Election to be held on June 8, ahead of the General Election in November.
Up for election are Woodbridge Township Council ward seats. The remaining four at-large seats will be selected in two years.
Five council members are seeking re-election – Nancy Bader-Drumm (D–1); Harold “Howie” R. Bauer Jr. (D–2); Corey S. Spillar (D-3); Virbhadra “Viru” Patel (D-4); and Debbie Meehan (D-5).
The challengers in the November election will be Ken Gardner (D-1) and John Vrtaric (Rep-1); Paul Lund Jr. (R-2); John Masculin (R-3); and Rocco Genova (R-5).
The one primary contest will be between Gardner and Vrtaric in Ward 1. Meanwhile, Virbhadra “Viru” Patel (Dem) is running unopposed in Ward 4.
Nancy Bader-Drumm is the membership director of the Woodbridge Community Center.
Ken Gardner is a one-time council president and current volunteer firefighter seeking to unseat Bader-Drumm and get back on the council. Gardner has maintained a voice at council meetings, often challenging the council members and Mayor John McCormac with regard to many local projects.
John Vrtaric has been a business owner as the proprietor of Mr. John’s Beauty Salon and Vatra Beauty Supplies, and maintains a number of other investment properties in the township for over 40 years. He ran for the same seat on the council in prior elections.
Harold “Howie” R. Bauer Jr. is vice president of the council and is seeking his third term in office.
Paul Lund Jr. is a high school teacher and Middlesex County committeeman. He ran unsuccessfully for an At-Large seat in 2019.
Corey S. Spillar served as council president in 2019. He is currently the fire official for Avenel Fire Prevention Bureau and has been for approximately 18 years, and served as chief of the Avenel Fire Department. He serves as commissioner to the Township of Woodbridge Redevelopment Agency and served on the Township of Woodbridge Zoning Board of Adjustment, holding the titles of member, secretary and vice chairman to the board.
Information was not available for John Masculin.
Virbhadra “Viru” Patel was named to the council as a temporary appointment in 2016 at the urging of Mayor John McCormac. Patel has won re-election in each subsequent election, and is running unopposed in this election.
Debbie Meehan is the owner/publisher of the Colonia Corner and Woodbridge Corner newspapers. She is seeking of her third term as a member of the council.
Rocco Genova ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2015, and then had a run at a State Assembly seat in 2019.