HAMMONTON—Two local politicians have announced their candidacy for higher offices.
Current councilman Joseph Giralo and former councilman Michael Torrissi have both decided to run for office outside of the confines of Hammonton.
Giralo is seeking the Republican nomination for Atlantic County Clerk, and is hoping to run against Democratic incumbent Edward P. McGettigan.
Torrissi is seeking the Republican nomination for New Jersey State Assembly for the 8th legislative district, hoping to fill one of two vacancies: incumbent Assemblyman Ryan Peters (R-8) announced on January 12 that he will not be seeking reelection, and incumbent Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-8) announced on January 14 that she intends to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Dawn Addiego (R-8) for State Senate; both terms expire at the end of the year.
“My goal is to run and win, and take over the seat so that it will be a Republican-held seat and not a flip ... Ryan Peters has publicly stated—and told me, face-to-face—he is not seeking reelection. Therefore, there is a vacancy that needs to be filled, which I am going to screened for and, hopefully, succeed in running,” Torrissi told The Gazette.
Giralo described some of the process that lies before him.
“I will need a petition with a certain amount of signatures based upon certified results of last year’s Republican turnout in the county. I will begin to work that process shortly, putting together the petition to have Republicans sign. Usually, for a county-wide race, it’s probably about between 300 and 500 signatures. I will begin that process shortly. That will place me on the ballot as the Atlantic County Republican Party nominee for the primary election in June,” he said.
Torrissi noted a slightly different petition process for his desired position.
“We’ll need to get signatures, but that is done through the party when we have those conventions. I don’t know what the climate is going to look like regarding gatherings because of COVID-19. In a normal year, the petitions are available at the convention and the signatures are usually gathered at that time to meet the requirement. It’s a lot easier when you’re on the party line, because we’re all working as a group. If somebody is working by themselves, they have to go out and collect those signatures,” Torrissi said.
Giralo said that he is awaiting the announcement of the Atlantic County Republican Convention, but has been doing a great deal of networking in the meantime.
“What I’ve done—because a lot of clubs and stuff are not meeting—I have been, at night, sitting here, calling club leaders. I’ve sent letters to all of the county committee people. I have reached out to all of the elected Republicans, meaning county people, commissioners, the surrogate, state Senator Chris Brown, state Senator Michael Testa, in the respective Atlantic County district. I have reached out to everyone,” he said.
Giralo noted that he has done a great deal of traveling since announcing his candidacy, and will continue to do so.
“To run in third-largest county, area-wise, in the state of New Jersey, it’s a lot. Some nights in early December, when I was out and about before the pandemic got worse, some nights I was on the road for two hours riding throughout the county because I might have an event in the western end, the eastern end, then you wind up back in the other end before the end of the night. My calendar is going to be full, and I intend to make as many of those stops as possible ... I will be going to the Hammonton club meeting; they’re actually meeting in person. I’ve been to Galloway. I’ll be going to Absecon, I’ll be going to Northfield to meet with their organizations. I have been making the rounds and having discussions for the past five months,” Giralo said.
Torrissi noted that he, too, has a great deal of ground to cover.
“We’re Legislative District 8 (LD8), which is made up of parts of Burlington County, Hammonton—the only town in Atlantic County—and a couple in Camden County,” he said.
Torrissi discussed his next steps, which will include covering three counties.
“The process is unfolding before us; it will be myself and, I assume, more than one other person seeking the nomination ... My next step is to go through the screening process in Burlington County so they can give their OK, then it goes to the county convention; I’ll have to go to the Atlantic, Burlington and Camden County conventions,” Torrissi said.
Torrissi also talked about the necessity to go through the screening process, which he himself went through two years ago.
“You need to go through the screening committee to get the Republican line on the ballot. Somebody could still run in the primary off the line, but having the line and the full endorsement of the county chairs is ideal to go through the proper channels ... I’ve been involved with the quest for an assembly seat for quite some time. I’ve been vetted, went through the process and always stood behind the decision of the county chairman and of the screening committee and the county committee, and the chairs. I’ve always respected their decision. There’s a structure that is followed, and I’ve always followed that,” he said.
Torrissi said that, this time around, he hopes to have the requisite signatures to secure the nomination.
“The intention is to be on the primary ballot on the regular line; that’s what conventions are for: to put you in placement there ... It’s been quite some time, and I’m ready to take on this challenge and represent everybody,” he said.
Giralo said that, assuming he secures the nomination—and, thus far, no other announced Republicans are seeking the nomination for Atlantic County Clerk—then it’s “off to the races.”
“Once we do that, once that takes place, I will face whoever the Democratic nominee is—or any independents, because there has been discussion of some Democrats that may run independent. There have been discussions of Democrat primary fights. Whoever it is, it doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m going to run on my record of getting the job done. I have a proven track record; I have over 30 years of getting the job done in government. That’s what I’m going on,” he said.
Torrissi said that, at the moment, the nomination is in the hands of the county committees and their respective chairs, but, assuming he receives the nomination, he hopes that residents from town will support him in the election, as the opportunity to elect a resident of Hammonton to a position in Trenton is “not something that occurs on a normal basis.”
“It’s a unique situation, to have somebody from our town in Trenton voting on these matters that are very important to us, to have a direct say and be able to speak on the House floor in Trenton. It’s a great opportunity, and I hope everyone in Hammonton realizes that,” Torrissi said.
Torrissi said that he sees this as having the potential to unite Hammonton residents across party lines.
“I’m hoping that all the Hammontonians will come together, whether they’re independent, Republican or Democrat, to show some support. It definitely helps the town. Regardless of party affiliation, we really want to do what’s best for our town and for the people of New Jersey,” he said.
Giralo concurred, and that support can come in other forms as well.
“I’m hoping that they will support me not only with support in the primary and the general election, and I will be reaching out to many Hammontonians during my fundraising in the next weeks ahead. I’m also looking for volunteers to work on the campaign ... If anybody wants to volunteer, anybody wants to help, I don’t care what party you are. I’m running as a Republican, but I’m running to do the job. Party affiliation has nothing to do with getting the job done,” Giralo said.