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.
The 36th Legislative District is made up of 15 municipalities from Bergen and Passaic counties: Carlstadt, Cliffside Park, East Rutherford, Little Ferry, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, North Arlington, Passaic, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Rutherford, South Hackensack, Teterboro, Wallington and Wood-Ridge.
Of the district’s 138,000 registered voters, 40% are Democratic and 18% are Republican.
This year, the district’s three Democratic incumbents—State Sen. Paul Sarlo, Assemblyman Gary Schaer and Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese—are all seeking re-election.
The GOP has put forward Chris Auriemma for state Senate and newcomers Craig Auriemma and Joseph Viso, Jr. for state Assembly under the “Veterans & Firefighters For Change” slate.
Here is a rundown of who is running for a seat in the State Legislature in the 36th District.
Democrat: Paul Sarlo (Incumbent)
Bio: Since taking office in 2003, Sarlo has held several key positions in the state Senate, including assistant majority leader and deputy majority leader. Prior to his state Senate service, Sarlo held one term in the state Assembly.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Sarlo has also been mayor of Wood-Ridge since 2000 and chief operating officer of construction company Joseph M. Sanzari, Inc. His brother, Thomas, is a councilman in Little Ferry.
Republican: Chris Auriemma
Bio: A Hoboken native and Lyndhurst resident, Auriemma served in the U.S. Army and also as a firefighter. Auriemma has said he wants to steer more federal grants to first responders and legalize marijuana. His brother, Craig, is running for an Assembly seat in the district.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: In 2020, Auriemma tried to unseat Democratic incumbent Bill Pascrell, Jr. and launched an unsuccessful bid for New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District House seat, running as an independent on the “Veterans for Change” line.
Democrat: Gary Schaer (Incumbent)
Bio: Schaer has been an Assemblyman since 2006 and, as deputy speaker, is one of the highest-ranking members of the state Assembly. During his tenure, he has held roles on committees such as education, insurance and financial institutions, as well as serving as budget chair and policy chair. Schaer has also been a councilman for the City of Passaic since 1995 and is currently the council president. His professional background includes two decades of experience in financial services and working as trustee at St. Mary’s Hospital.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Schaer is the first Orthodox Jew elected to New Jersey state Legislature.
Democrat: Clinton Calabrese (Incumbent)
Bio: After assuming office in 2018, Calabrese became the youngest serving member in the state Assembly and has worked on committees including telecommunications and utilities, environment and solid waste and housing. Prior to that, Calabrese served on the Cliffside Park Zoning Board from 2016 to 2017 and Cliffside Park School Board from 2009 to 2010. Calabrese has worked as an analyst for Deutsche Bank and is now as a principal for Alkova Companies, a real estate investment firm.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Calabrese is the son of Gerald Calabrese Jr., chairman of the Cliffside Park Democratic Party, and the grandson of Gerald Calabrese, a former professional basketball player served as Cliffside Park’s mayor for 50 years.
Republican: Craig Auriemma
Bio: A U.S. Army veteran and retired Jersey City firefighter, Auriemma is now a commercial real estate agent. His brother, Chris, is running for a state Senate seat in the same district.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Auriemma is a frequent critic of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy on social media and opposes COVID-19-related safety measures, such as school masking rules and vaccination requirements.
Republican: Joseph Viso, Jr.
Bio: A Carlstadt resident and owner of Viso Electrical Contracting, Viso is a political newcomer who advanced as a write-in from the primary.
North-JerseyNews.com Fact: Viso is highly critical of President Joe Biden, as well as Gov. Murphy, and has used his social media account to speak out against face mask requirements and coronavirus vaccine mandates.