Nina Melker of Hamilton is congratulated by Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes after being declared the next Mercer County Freeholder. Photo from Facebook.
Hamilton Township banker and well-respected community service leader Nina Melker stunned the “political know it alls” when she was voted in by the Mercer County Democratic Committee as the next Freeholder of Mercer County.
Melker along with a starting field of 8 other candidates that included New Jersey corrections officer Lance Lopez of Lawrence, Joseph Zalescik of Hamilton, Lawrence Councilman Michael Powers, former West Windsor councilman Kamal Khanna, Sasa Olessi Montaño of Trenton, Roberto Hernandez of Trenton, Tennille McCoy of Hamilton and Ewing Councilwoman Jennifer Keyes-Maloney all vied for the seat of newly appointed Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli who vacated his Freeholder seat to to become the 15th District Assemblyman, replacing newly elected Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.
But only days before Wednesday’s convention both Mcoy and Keyes-Maloney backed out due to a conflict with their full-time state jobs, leaving 7 candidates to choose from.
McCoy is the newly hired assistant commissioner of human capital strategies at the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Keyes-Maloney works in the state Treasurer’s Office as director of legislative affairs and constituent relations.
In the weeks leading up to the convention, political insiders were convinced that a Latino would be appointed to serve as the next Freeholder and the buzz was that it was a done deal.
But say what you may about the Mercer County Democrats, their convention process is as fair and as open as humanly possible, and truly allows elected committeemen and women to have a voice in picking their nominees for elected office. That is something that should be both applauded and cherished in our democracy.
More than 300 of Mercer County’s 429 Democratic committee members who were elected in the primary election attended Wednesday’s convention and decided upon Melker as the next Freeholder of Mercer.