On Tuesday, Nov. 2, voters across New Jersey will head to the polls to cast ballots for their ballots to fill all 80 seats in the state Assembly and 40 seats in the state Senate.
In the 35th Legislative District, which encompasses Elmwood Park, Garfield, Haledon, North Haledon, Paterson and Prospect Park, 48.5% of the 210,000 registered voters identify as Democrat. Only 11.5% are Republican.
The district has not elected a Republican to office since 1994.
The district’s three Democratic incumbents — State Sen. Nellie Pou, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter — are all seeking re-election this year. The GOP has put forward Ken Pengitore for State Senate and newcomers Iman Majagah and Ramzy Yamisha for state Assembly.
Here is a rundown of who is running for a seat in the State Legislature in the 35th Legislative District.
Democrat: Nellie Pou (Incumbent)
Bio: After assuming office in 2012, the Paterson native has served on several committees, including economic justice and equal employment opportunity, commerce, judiciary, higher education and budget appropriations. Prior to joining the Senate, Pou was a state Assemblywoman from 1997 to 2012. Her professional background alco includes chairing Paterson’s Department of Human Resources from 1983 to 1997, as well as working on the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and the Passaic County Planning and Partnership Committee.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Pou was the first woman and first Latina elected to represent the 35th district.
Republican: Ken Pengitore
Bio: A former Haledon mayor and longtime councilman, Pengitore resigned from his post as chief financial officer of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in 2011 amid controversy over the agency’s hiring practices and use of public resources. Later that year, he mounted an unsuccessful bid for the district’s State Senate seat.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Pengitore was recently ranked as “North Jersey’s Greatest Quarterback” by The Record. The 1970 Manchester Regional High School graduate was an all-state quarterback who later became a football coach at his alma mater from 1986 to 1992.
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Democrat: Shavonda Sumter (Incumbent)
Bio: During her nine years as an Assemblywoman, Sumter has served as majority conference leader and deputy speaker. The Paterson native has also held positions on committees including community development and affairs, labor and law and public safety.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Sumter, a healthcare administrator at Mountainside Hospital, considered running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2017. She was also considered as the party’s candidate for lieutenant governor.
Democrat: Benjie Wimberly (Incumbent)
Bio: After assuming office in 2012, Wimberly has served as deputy speaker of the assembly and held roles on committees such as economic justice and equal employment opportunity, public schools, budget, housing, transportation and independent authorities. Prior to joining the state Legislature, Wimberly was a Paterson councilman for two years.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: In 2014, Wimberly considered running for mayor of Paterson. His professional background includes working as a teacher at Eastside High School, director of Paterson’s Division of Recreation and head coach of Paterson Catholic and Hackensack High School’s football programs.
Republican: Iman Majagah
Bio: Majagah is a Haledon resident and social worker.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Majagah sought a council seat in 2020 and ran in the primary as a Democrat.
Republican: Ramzy Yamisha
Bio: A Haledon resident, Yamisha is a political newcomer and currently working in the information technology sector as a support specialist at Rutgers University.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: He is pursuing a master’s degree in information technology at Montclair State University.