Township Attorney John Inglesino released a memo Tuesday addressing whether Dr. Louis Valori legally can run for the up for grabs in November.
According to Inglesino, the answer is unclear.
In his memo, which is addressed to the Parsippany Republican Municipal Committee, the attorney said that according to state law, Valori, who retired from the in June but remains on "terminal leave" and thus still is considered a town employee, is not eligible at this time to serve in an elective office.
Valoris's terminal leave ends Oct. 1, however, so if he were to run and win, he would be free and clear to serve as of November.
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But does he have the legal eligibility to follow through and run for the position? As of Monday, Valori said he believed he was eligible.
In Inglesino's opinion, however, the law says there is a difference between running for office and holding office.
"A plain reading of NJSA 19:13-20(e) appears to suggest that Mr. Valori is ineligible to be a candidate for the vacant council seat because he does not [officially] retire until Oct. 1, 2012," Inglesino wrote in his opinion. "However, case law suggests that Mr. Valori's eligibility to be a candidate is distinguishable from his eligibility to hold office. Thus, there is no clear legal authority to definitively state, under the facts of the instant matter, whether Mr. Valori is eligible to be a candidate for Town Council this November."
In the absence of any assurance under the law, Inglesino suggested that if Valori chooses to continue with the council candidacy he announced Monday, he would be taking a bit of a legal risk.
"That law, otherwise known as the Vacancy Law, requires a certification that Mr. Valori may or may not be comfortable to sign," Inglesino told Patch.
The attorney referred to a portion of the law that says that in order to run, candidates must sign a form swearing that they are qualified under state law to be a candidate.
"Mr. Valori's eligibility turns on whether he is qualified under the laws of New Jersey to be a candidate for the vacant council position and whether he can provide the necessary certification to satisfy NJSA 19:13-20(e)," Inglesino wrote in the memo.
The problem is that NJSA 19:13-20(e) does not define the word "candidate," but the Vacancy Law does: "any person who shall file, or cause to have filed, a petition of nomination for election, or for election, to any local elective office." Neither law defines "qualified under the laws of this state."
Therein lies the murkiness.
Patch asked Inglesino what he thought Valori should do.
"I am not Mr. Valori’s attorney, so I can’t comment on what he should or should not do."
Valori, when reached by Patch, said he was still trying to get a handle on Inglesino's opinion, though he did say he believes in his his eligibility and that his candidacy is still alive.
He said he will be reaching out to his own lawyer for guidance.