Appeals Court says Mendez can run for mayor
A state appeals court will allow Alex Mendez’s name to remain on the ballot in the Paterson mayoral race, allowing Passaic County election officials to begin printing and mailing ballots by correspondence for the non-partisan municipal elections of May 10.
The mailing of ballots, which was due to have started on March 26, was halted after the appeals court took 12 days to issue its 11-page ruling.
The decision sets up a race between Mendez, a councilman indicted for voter fraud, and Mayor Andre Sayegh. Three other candidates are also in the race.
Mendez had filed 872 signatures — five more than he needed to appear on the ballot — and many signers had also signed petitions for other candidates. Paterson resident Vincent Iannacone challenged the petitions under a state law that would have invalidated all multi-signers.
Mendez’s attorneys claimed that since he filed his petitions first, those signers shouldn’t count.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan ruled against a challenge to Alex Mendez’s petitions on April 8, refusing to invalidate the signatures of voters who have also signed other petitions. The appeal was filed on April 11.
But the appeal remained in the hands of two appeal court judges, Mary Gibbons Whipple and Ronald Susswein, for nearly two weeks before their decision was released today.
“The law authorized the clerk to determine how to validate petitions and that the decision of the clerk to count the first petitions filed was not an abuse of power. The clerk explained his long-used rule and applied it consistently,” Whipple wrote in his decision. “We are satisfied that the Registrar did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in choosing and applying this rule as a general remedy to deal with contested motions. Moreover, the clerk did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in counting the first petitions filed by Mendez, because he applied the remedy as he had described it in the electoral package in this case.
Election officials hope to print ballots today and mail them out by tomorrow, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
“It’s an abomination. Our goal is to make people believe the elections are fair because they really are,” said an election official who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Judges need to take elections more seriously. This has been mishandled.”