Judge Keeps Freeholder Candidates Off Primary Ballot

UNION COUNTY — A slate of freeholder candidates who wanted to challenge the incumbents will not appear on the June Democratic Primary ballot after Judge Lisa F. Chrystal yesterday upheld County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi’s decision to disqualify their petitions.

Rajoppi determined that the “Democrats for Change” slate failed to gather 100 legitimate signatures from registered voters qualified to vote in the Democratic primary. AnaMaria Bercik, who has been employed as an assistant county counsel for 12 years, planned to run for freeholder along with Elizabeth Councilman Carlos Cedeno and Babe Frazier.

In their court complaint, the prospective candidates argued that their petitions were sufficient and proper, and alleged that Rajoppi improperly refused to accept affidavits from petition signers verifying their own signatures after the petitions were challenged.

The court case delayed the primary election calendar. Ballot position drawings were originally scheduled for April 13, and April 16 was the deadline to prepare the official primary election ballot for printing.

With Bercik, Cedeno and Frazier denied a place on the ballot, incumbent Freeholders Al Mirabella and Mohamed Jalloh and their running mate, former Springfield town attorney Bruce Bergen, should have a free ride to the Democratic Party nomination. Freeholder Deborah Scanlon is not seeking re-election to a sixth term.

Candidates will be running under the Democrats for Change slogan in two Union County cities, Elizabeth and Rahway.

Oscar Ocasio and his running mates — Frank Mazza, Josue Anacius, and Juan Camilo Victoria — are challenging Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage and Council Members Manny Grova, Jr., Patricia Perkins-Auguste and Frank Cuesta, who are running on the same column as President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez.

In Rahway, a slate of city council candidates running under the Democrats for Change slogan are challenging candidates running on the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County ticket. The Democrats for Change group includes Miriam Lugo (1st Ward), Scott Caffee (2nd Ward), Joseph J. Velotti (3rd Ward), Renee Bridges Thrash (4th Ward), Robert Huntley (5th Ward) and Justin Fuson (6th Ward.) The organization Democrats are Rodney Farrar (1st Ward), Councilman Michael W. Cox (2nd Ward), Robert C. Bresenhan Jr. (3rd Ward), Councilman David Brown (4th Ward), Councilwoman Jennifer Maier (5th Ward) and Councilman Samson Steinman (6th Ward.)

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