Warren County Commissioner Jason Sarnoski (R-Independence), a Republican Assembly candidate in the 24th legislative district, lives in Independence Township. Edmund Khanoo and Alicia Sharma, a Democratic husband-and-wife team who are running for the Senate and Assembly in the same district, live in Mount Olive Township.
The mailing addresses for their houses, however, are in “Hackettstown.”
That distinction was at the heart of a rather efficient residency challenge today, brought by a concerned resident of the 24th district. Since Hackettstown proper is in the 23rd district, and since legislative candidates in New Jersey have to live within the district they’re running for, the challenger argued that the three candidates are ineligible to run for the 24th district.
But Sarnoski, Khanoo, and Sharma don’t live in Hackettstown – they live in neighboring municipalities within the 24th district. It’s common across New Jersey for residents of sprawling suburban townships to list the nearest urban center as their address; that’s why, for example, half of Central Jersey seems to live in “Princeton.”
Administrative Law Judge Joseph Ascione was quick to grasp the distinction.
“On the state website, I put your addresses in the map, and it showed where they are on the map,” Ascione said. “They all appear to be within the district.”
The challenger, realizing his mistake, withdrew the challenge; Khanoo and Sharma said there are no hard feelings.
“It confused me when we bought the house in 2015, too,” Khanoo said. “You’re not alone. No harm, okay?”