Musella Announcement Draws 'Carpetbagger' Claim From Parsippany Mayor

July 3, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

PARSIPPANY, NJ — With councilman Justin Musella’s campaign for the 2025 Parsippany mayor’s race officially kicked off, current mayor James Barberio criticized the timing while there is an important election ahead this November.

The mayor also dismissed Musella, a fellow Republican, as “another carpetbagger politician” in a statement to the media, indicating he will run for a fourth term to lead Morris County’s largest town.

“We have three county commissioners up in a county that is trending in the wrong direction,” Barberio said. “To win this November, Republicans need to band together.”

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Though the two were on the same GOP ticket in the November 2021 election, they were on separate teams in that year’s primary — and it looks like they will be again, next June.

In an interview with Patch, Musella said he is not afraid to challenge his own party when he feels they are not living up to the values they campaigned on, as he did in December when he voted against three new PILOT agreements.

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“Look, the easiest way to rise in politics is to sit there and vote ‘yes,'” the first-term councilman said. “And that’s not what I am, I am my own person with my own belief system and I am willing to go against the grain if I believe in the cause.”

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Barberio was elected in 2021 to his third non-consecutive term as mayor, and emphasized his focus on public safety and stabilizing the town finances in a statement. He noted an increase in the number of Parsippany police officers, and said the town has been put back on stable ground financially since he took office.

“There will be a time to reflect on the impactful strides we have made, but until then I will continue fighting for every Parsippany resident in every corner of this great town,” Barberio said. “Parsippany deserves an experienced leader that is ready to stand up for them, not another carpetbagger politician trying to use us as a stepping stone for higher office.”

Musella, 32, is a Wayne native, and just recently announced that his wife Courtney is pregnant with their first child. Responding to the mayor’s “carpetbagger” comment, he said he’s lived in Parsippany for five years and is dedicated to improving the town for his growing family.

“My decision to run for mayor is rooted in my commitment to serving this community where we plan to raise our family, and I believe in the potential of Parsippany to thrive and grow,” Musella said. “And I want to contribute my experience and ideas to make that happen.”

Since both took office in 2022, Musella has frequently sparred with Barberio (who is also the only full-time mayor in the county) over the budget and finances, development projects, and how things are run at Town Hall.

“What’s been extremely important to me has been responsiveness, delivering results, and accountability,” Musella told Patch. “And I think those attributes are lacking right now at Town Hall.”

Their back-and-forth discussion has continued at council meetings and in the media, including during a call from Barberio in to NJ101.5. The disagreements kicked off again at the June 25 meeting during the public comment period, after a resident brought up concerns about former town attorney John Inglesino’s involvement with the PILOT projects approved in December.

Musella accused Barberio of deflecting criticism of the deals, with the mayor saying the councilman is just trying to “throw anything that’s going to stick” at the wall.

“It’s not going to stick with me,” Barberio said.

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