Elections are creeping up quickly.
Parsippany Republican Mayor James Barberio and his campaign on Tuesday questioned the business record of his opponent, Parsippany Councilman Jonathan Nelson.
According to the campaign release, “Nelson—a Township Councilman who was elected in 2012—has continually promoted his business experience to curry favor with voters, stating on his website that he is ‘A small business owner for two decades...’ and that he ‘owned and operated two restaurants in Parsippany.’”
“As a business owner, Jonathan Nelson has racked up over $50,000 in judgments against him,” said Barberio. “Jonathan Nelson's failure to pay his taxes and bills demonstrate that he is fiscally irresponsible and unfit to be Mayor.”
In response, Nelson said that he’s a “target of a vicious mud-slinging campaign at the hands of the Mayor and his hired political guns.”
Nelson added that Barberio’s election method is to turn “his campaign into a personal attack machine just as he has done in the past, and especially during June’s primary race.”
In the primary, incumbent Barberio beat Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr. by 545 votes. With absentees counted, Barberio won by 89 votes. Nelson ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and received 751 votes.
Barberio’s campaign did a review of public information databases and said they uncovered a history of unpaid obligations and judgments filed against Nelson and his businesses. Their source is the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Public Records.
“This record raises serious questions about his financial integrity and ability to serve as Mayor,” said the campaign release. The findings of Barberio’s campaign research are as follows:
- On Aug. 6, 1998 a judgment was filed against Nelson and his business New Arlington Kosher Deli and Restaurant on behalf of the New Jersey Division of Taxation in the amount of $11,116.37. (Judgment Summary DJ204381 98)*
- On Jan. 6, 2004 a judgment was filed against Nelson and his business Powder Mill Kosher Deli and Restaurant on behalf of the New Jersey Division of Taxation in the amount of $6,863.61. (Judgment Summary DJ238453 04)*
- On June 7, 2012 another judgment was filed against Nelson and his business Powder Mill Kosher Deli and Restaurant on behalf of the New Jersey Division of Taxation in the amount of $16,622.60. (Judgment Summary DJ118425 12)*
- On Feb. 3, 2009 a judgment was filed against Nelson and his business Powder Mill Kosher Deli and Restaurant on behalf of AdvanceMeInc in the amount of $19,252.89. According to the company website AdvanceMeInc a lending company specializing in loaning working capital to businesses. (Judgment Summary J034169 09)*
To explain these claims from Barberio’s campaign, Nelson said, “like many small business owners and residents, we have faced hard financial times and I, in my business, was no exception and could not escape the economic turbulence.”
“While every business may go through a tough time, three tax judgments such as these indicate a serial problem of, at best case, ineffective management,” Barberio said. “The fact that Nelson is trying to use this experience to sell why he should be Mayor is a shockingly obnoxious slap in the face of the voters. His real record indicates that his business ability could be disastrous for Parsippany.”
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Council passed the $62 million 2013 municipal budget — with a zero percent tax increase — by a 3-1 vote at a special meeting in June.
Barberio, who is endorsed by Gov. Chris Christie, added, “We introduced a budget this year that did not raise taxes,” says Barberio. “We have been working hard for the last four years to bring fiscal accountability and stability to this community – and we have worked to hold the line on taxes. It is unfortunate that during this same period Jonathan Nelson has been working to avoid paying his own taxes … It takes more than words to run a Township the size of Parsippany. As Mayor you have to be accountable to people and cannot walk away from your financial obligations like Mr. Nelson has spent his career doing.”
In response, Nelson said he claims responsibility for his actions.
“The difference between Barberio and myself is this: I am personally responsible for my small business and personal actions,” said Nelson. “Barberio, however, does not take responsibility for his actions. He in fact has no business experience and has one simple answer to all problems, ‘raise taxes.’”
Nelson said that during Barberio’s time as mayor, Parsippany’s tax rate has been raised by 21.6 percent, actual taxes went up by 10.1 percent while residents’ incomes decreased, stayed the same or residents lost jobs. Nelson added that property values have also declined during Barberio’s time in office.
Barberio said that although Nelson claims responsibility for his actions, that does not explain “the judgment filed against him on April 11, 2013 by Castle Printing in the amount of $2,942.80 (DJ 094710 13)*. This is the vendor used by Nelson during his 2012 Council Campaign for lawn signs. Ironically, despite littering the Township with lawn signs in 2012, Nelson never filed a payment or a debt on his New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission Report.”
Nelson responded that the issue has been resolved and is paid in full.
Both candidates challenged each other to step up to the plate.
“Jonathan Nelson cannot spin or lie his way out of this one,” said Barberio. “He can try to deflect and call it mudslinging, but the public record is the public record. Jonathan Nelson owes an answer as to how he can leave a local business on the hook for his campaign signs. Nelson’s fiscal integrity is coming even more into focus – he has failed to pay his debts and he failed to file the paperwork required by law. He should focus on fixing his own issues and not bring his irresponsibility into the Mayor’s Office.”
“Based upon his many failures and scandals in office, his campaign has evolved into trying to destroy opponents, Republican and Democrats alike, in order to save his own skin and maintain his office,” said Nelson. “I am challenging Jamie to reveal his own failures, liens, court-ordered judgments, credit issues, employment records and cover-ups. Barberio should reveal his own personal history first before personally attacking others and slinging mud.”
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