Politics reared its head at Tuesday's Town Council meeting over the overturned Morris County Freeholder primary when the rival of council member Vincent Ferrara stepped up to the council chamber's microphone to make a public comment.
Robert Crawford, who unsuccessfully ran for a council seat during the June primary election, read into the record a Daily Record letter to the editor he wrote calling on the state attorney general to launch an investigation into the primary race. He referred specifically to allegations of possible voter fraud aired during the e: , and Jigar Shah, a campaign worker helping the Republican Team Parsippany ticket of council incumbents, was implicated.
"It is absolutely critical that those who may have broken the law be brought to justice before the general election," Crawford said. "That's why I'm calling for an immediate investigation."
Crawford switched his party affiliation to Democrat after learning that he had earned enough write-in votes to qualify for the Democratic nomination and face Republican winner Vincent Ferrara in the November general election.
That campaign was shut down almost immediately when Town Attorney John Inglesino pointed out that state law forbids a person who has lost a primary municipal race from switching parties to run for the same post in a general election.
Crawford told Patch that he recently switched his party affiliation back to Republican.
He asked the council members individually if they would join him in calling for an immediate investigation by the attorney general.
President dePierro, who has been outspoken in maintaining his innocence and that of his running mates, said he would support a probe.
"I would like us to be vindicated, so I would love to see the attorney general investigate," he said. "The allegations are untrue and insulting to us. Absolutely, make them investigate."
Crawford put the question to his primary foe.
"No," Ferrara said tightly, "I will not join you in anything."
"I run an absentee campaign," Council Vice President Brian Stanton said. "I'm fine with an investigation. I have nothing to hide and everything I do is clean and legit."
New council member Paul Carifi Jr. did not run on Team Parsippany's ticket in the primary election, but for the general, he now is a full-fledged running mate.
"I'm fine with an investigation," he said. "I agree with the councilman."
Crawford put his question to the mayor as well.
"You had 330 absentee ballots, so you would have to be under that investigation, too," Barberio replied.
Crawford indicated that he was open to being investigated.
DePierro reiterated his position.
"None of us did anything illegal," he said, adding that a statement from Team Parsippany's attorney is coming.
The council president mentioned that some of his running mates, alarmed about the controversy borne out of the Lyon v. Nordstrom freeholder election battle, feared the very name Team Parsippany had been tainted by bad publicity and floated the idea of coming up with a new ticket name. According to dePierro, he convinced his colleagues that changing the name would give the appearance of wrongdoing.
"Let the investigation vindicate us," he said. "We did nothing wrong."