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Burlington County Democratic Chairman Joe Andl. (Photo: Burlington Democrats).

Democrats seek dismissal of lawsuit regarding Burlington county commissioner vacancy

By David Wildstein, March 28 2022 3:49 pm

Burlington County Democrats are seeking a dismissal of a lawsuit filed Friday night by Republicans who want a judge to prohibit the filling of a vacant county commissioner seat.

Republicans allege that Joe Andl, the Democratic county chairman, blew past the deadline to fill the seat left empty when Linda Hynes resigned in January to become a Superior Court judge.

“From its own verified pleadings, plaintiff has conceded that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this action as the claims are not ripe and there is no justiciable controversy for the Court to address,” said Raj Parikh, an attorney for the Burlington Democrats in a filing with the court. “As such, this matter must be dismissed.”

Both parties are set to appear before Superior Court Judge John Harrington this afternoon.

Court records had initially reflected that the matter was assigned to another judge, Aimee Belgard, a former Democratic freeholder and congressional candidate, but officials said later that her assignment may have been an error.

“Because there are no facts of an actual controversy or improper governmental action, BCGOP cannot seek to enjoin same from occurring, nor does the Court have subject matter jurisdiction to review any such application,” said Parikh, a partner at Genova Burns, one of the state’s top election law firms.

The deadline to fill the seat was February 19, but Andl never called a meeting.

The GOP says that Democrats are planning to fill the seat anyway with Allison Eckel, their candidate in the full election.   The New Jersey Globe has confirmed Andl’s intention to appoint Eckel.

“This matter became ripe for adjudication when Defendant Burlington County Democratic Committee failed to fill the Commissioner seat within the mandated 35 day deadline,” wrote Christopher Dasti, an attorney representing the Republicans.  “Now, that the plan to hold a vote after such time frame has been discovered, a declaration that the Burlington County Democratic Committee cannot fill the vacancy is necessary consequence of the seat being declared vacancy until November 8, 2022.

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