Supporter once claimed Atkins betrayed the Democratic Party

A Union County Democratic Committee member, who called on party leaders to remove Reginald Atkins from his post as chairman of the Roselle Democratic Committee over his support for Republicans in the 2019 general election, is now backing the turncoat as a candidate for General Assembly.

Reginald Atkins was unfit to lead the Roselle Democratic Committee according to former school board member Anthony Esposito, a district leader.

Democratic Committee member Anthony Esposito sent a letter to Union County Democratic Chairman Sen. Nicholas Scutari and State Democratic Chair John Currie calling on them to force the resignation of Atkins after he made public statements refusing to support Democratic nominees for mayor and council in Roselle.

According to Esposito, Atkins urged voters not to vote for Democratic candidates in a Facebook message posted on November 4, 2019, 24 hours before Election Day.

Opposing Atkins in the June 8 primary are Christian Veliz and Diane Murray-Clements are running for the 20th District Democratic nomination for Assembly on the Column B slate led by Assemblyman Jamel Holley.

Veliz, of Elizabeth, earned a graduate degree from Harvard University and worked for the United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Murray-Clements is a former Hillside councilwoman, the owner of an Union Township insurance brokerage and as a trustee of Franklin-St. John’s United Methodist Church in Newark. 

In his letter to Scutari and Currie, Esposito said bylaws of both the Roselle Democratic Committee and the Union County Democratic Committee obligate all members to support all Democratic candidates nominated in a primary election. Esposito said the failure to do so is grounds for removal from office.

In his November 4, 2019 Facebook post Atkins announced, “I do not support our local municipal candidates,” referring to Mayor Christine Dansereau, who was on the ballot with Councilwomen Denise Wilkerson and Cindy Thomas. 

Atkins, a former Roselle school board member, councilman and mayor who is Democratic municipal chairman, was fined $2,581 by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission for late reporting of more than $33,000 in campaign contributions to his 2013 school board bid.

Atkins is allied with incumbent state Senator Joseph Cryan and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano on the regular political organization line, which is controlled by Sen. Nicholas Scutari of Linden, the party boss who denied support for a second term to Union County Commissioner Andrea “Sunshine” Staten. 

Scutari has no problem allowing incumbents Alexander Mirabella and Kim Palmieri-Mouded to seek re-election although they represent small, predominantly White towns in the western part of the county.

Mirabella lives in Fanwood and is paid $150,000 as Scotch Plains township manager, while Palmieri-Mouded is a stay-at-home mother who purchased a new $1 million home in Westfield in December.

At times desperately clinging to the coattails of Gov. Phil Murphy, the contenders with establishment support have waged a campaign devoid of substance, featuring billboard style ads that feature no information about the candidates or what they stand for.

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