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Attorney Outlines Rules for Special Council Election

The township's lawyer says there are many steps that must be taken to participate in the special council election coming in November.

Questions continue to swirl in the township over what took many by surprise: that the Township Council seat just filled by appointee James Vigilante is up for municipal election in the fall.

Though he addressed some questions last week, Town Attorney John Inglesino told Patch that given the number of people still asking him for clarification, he pursued more research to ensure that those charged with nominating candidates to fill the seat between November of this year and its expiration date, December 2013—and anyone interested in launching a run—are fully and accurately informed well before the election's filing dates.

Inglesino offered his answers in the form of a memorandum addressed to Nicole C. Green and Michael Soriano, the respective chairs of Parsippany's Republican and Democratic parties.

James Vigilante was appointed to fill Cesaro's seat under New Jersey's Municipal Vacancy Law, according to Inglesino, and under that law, the newest councilman may hold it only until the general election.

The attorney said a special election must be held because of former council member John Cesaro's resignation, a move he had to make in order to accept an appointment to the Morris County Board of Freeholders.

"As a result [of] former Councilman Cesaro's resignation, a vacancy occurred on the Parsippany-Troy Hills Town Council prior to Sept. 1 of the next-to-the-last year of Councilman Cesaro's term," the attorney wrote. "While the Town Council can and did fill the subject vacancy temporarily by appointment, such vacancy must still be filled by the voting public for the unexpired term at the next general election."

That means each party's committee may select one candidate for the office, and those party picks must file petitions with the Morris County Clerk by Sept. 12, 55 days before the date of the general election.

Inglesino said non-affiliated candidates who wish to run as independents may file petitions as well, however, they have a different deadline: Sept. 3, 2012.

An additional plank of the Municipal Vacancy Law stipulates that the said the municipal clerk must inform the county clerk and the local political party chairpersons.

Inglesino said each political party may hold a special meeting to allow its members to select a candidate for the unexpired term seat. 

The Parsippany Democrats already have announced that Jonathan Nelson will be their candidate. Local party chair Michael Soriano said his committee will meet this month to formalize their choice.

For the Republicans, chair Nicole C. Green told Patch that her committee is aware of the September deadline and plans to meet in order to pick their candidate.

"Councilman Vigilante has indicated to me that he intends to run for the nomination, and I believe that he has stated that intention publicly as well," said Green. "I don't know who else, if anyone, plans to run for the nomination, so I can't assess any candidate's chances at this point. 

"I do know, however, that the Parsippany Republican Party will support our nominee and will campaign strongly with the Republican candidate to earn the votes of Parsippany's citizens in November."

Once candidates are formally chosen, the party committees must file a statement with the county clerk containing their candidate's residence and post office box address, along with a certification that the candidate is qualified to run under state law and is a member of that party.

"The person selected must also file a certificate stating that he or she is qualified under the laws of the state to be a candidate for the vacant office, that he or she is a member of the political party in said statement, and further that he or she is not a member or, identified with, any other political party or any political organization espousing the cause of candidate of any other party," Inglesino wrote.

The candidates, he added, must include certification that they have been administered an oath declaring their allegiance to the laws of the state and the nation and swearing their intent to uphold the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions. They must also accept their party's nomination in writing and sign a statement indicating that they have never been convicted of a crime.

(If the candidate was convicted of a crime or crimes, he or she must disclose the nature of the crime, the date and place of conviction and the penalty imposed.)

"Provided all the foregoing steps are adhered to, then the person so selected shall be the candidate of the party," the attorney explained.

For unaffiliated people who wish to run, Inglesino said the procedure is different. They must instead file a petition with the county clerk containing residents' signatures amounting to 2 percent of the total vote from the last General Assembly election. 

Those signing the petition must provide their address, attest that they have signed no other candidate's petition and pledge their support and vote for the independent candidate. That candidate in turn must provide the clerk with a three-words-or-less designation of a party name (not Democratic or Republican) or the principles the candidate represents.

patchitup1 July 12, 2012 at 03:20 PM
I agree...
Monica Sclafani July 12, 2012 at 09:30 PM
"They must instead file a petition with the county clerk containing residents' signatures amounting to 2 percent of the total vote from the last General Assembly election." Just curious - approximately how many signatures represents 2% of the vote?
Tom Wyka July 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Monica, Interesting that you bring that up. That's something that I think is an extremely unfair threshold for independent candidates. Last year's turnout was abysmal (7K maybe 8K tops, about 20% off comparable Assembly elections where there was no governor or mayor on the ballot). Using that number - an independent needs in the neighborhood of 140-160 signatures. Compare that to the 200 I needed as a partisan candidate to get on the primary ballot for US Congress (an entire congressional district) or the much lower numbers (10-30 signatures) partisan candidates need for the primary - when the normal primary petition process is in effect. Imagine if we were following a gubernatorial year. Illustrates how arbitrary these laws are and how it's rigged for partisanship.
VietNam Vet July 30, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Bill if they would give it to me, I'd take it because I am NOT in the mayors pocket or anyone elses and I don't intend to be either. I would be there for the taxpayers in town because I am one of the seniors and I'm tired of our taxes going up with the school board budget leading the way thanks to Sietz. You remember him the Greedy monster who could care less about the children in this town and more about his pocket.
VietNam Vet July 30, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Louise, I can bring that to the table because I will not vote with the mayor on everything he wants to shove down our throats in his back room deals. I am a taxpayers here and I don't like what is going on up there either. I guess I'll do a write in vote again, for myself.

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