A number of people will try to run for office without the backing of the two traditional parties following Tuesday’s filing deadline for independent candidates.

Locally, these include a slate of Hammonton First candidates, the Democratic mayor of Estell Manor and a pair of prospective state legislators with previous bids for office.

Estell Manor Mayor Joe Venezia, 58, said he believed he was still registered as a Democrat, but he’s running as an independent after 19 years in office. “I think from Washington to right on down to Trenton, politics is really broke,” Venezia said. “You have Republicans and Democrats who are always fighting one another.”

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Venezia will oppose Democrat Arleen L. Jacobson and Republican Stephen Teasenfitz in November.

In Atlantic County, Gary Stein is again running for the Assembly in the 2nd Legislative District.

Stein, 56, operates an office-cleaning business in Mullica Township. This is his second bid for the Assembly, following three campaigns for Congress and one for governor. Stein had sought the Democratic nomination this spring, but was kicked off the ballot after state Democrats challenged his election petition.

Stein said he is running because he wants to draw attention to what he considers the state’s unfair balloting system that puts power in the hands of party leaders. He promised litigation to change the system.

“I understand it thoroughly,” Stein said. “The bosses know it, but they don’t know that it’s not this way in 49 other states.”

Stein will run against Republican Assemblymen John F. Amodeo and Chris Brown and Democrats Vincent Mazzeo and Nick Russo.

In Cape May County, Lower Township resident Thomas W. Greto, 70, will try a second run for a seat in the New Jersey state Senate in the 1st Legislative District.

Greto, a retired businessman, ran for Senate in 2011 with a slate of candidates that supported a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. They did not win the Republican nomination in the June primary.

Greto previously ran for the Pennsylvania House in 1994, but went missing for two weeks around the election because he was jailed, according to a previously published story in The Press of Atlantic City.

Greto lost that election and was charged with embezzling $400,000 from friends and associates in connection with a failed real estate deal. He was acquitted of theft charges but was convicted of deceitful business practices, a misdemeanor, and spent about two years in a Delaware County, Pa. jail.

A call to Greto on Wednesday was returned by a campaign manager Ryan Daily, who said Greto was not taking press calls. Asked about the theft charge, Daily said, “What’s that got to do with the campaign?” and ended the call.

In November, Greto will run against Republican Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt and incumbent Democrat Jeff Van Drew.

Contact Derek Harper:


Follow Derek Harper on Twitter @dnharper


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