A Teaneck councilwoman running in a hotly-contested Democratic State Assembly primary has been late paying her property taxes 81 times since 2006, and Teaneck has put her home up for public sale for unpaid taxes nine times, records show.
Gervonn Romney Rice acknowledged the tax liens, which occurred between 2002 and 2014, and the late payments, but maintains that her personal struggles will make her more connected to families in the 37th district, where she is seeking one of two open Assembly seats.
“Sometimes you fall behind,” she said. “I can relate to how challenging home ownership is. I am your neighbor. I understand how challenging this is. It speaks to me as an average person.”
A school board member winning a Teaneck council seat in 2016, Romney Rice is running for Assembly on a slate headed by the veteran lawmaker she wants to succeed, State Senate candidate Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
Records show that Romney Rice wound up paying more than $18,000 in penalties for late payments. She was able to satisfy her property tax obligations in each of the nine occurrences, preventing a tax sale.
“Even though I have trouble paying my own taxes, I understand the need to pay your fair share,” Romney Rice said. “If anything, it gives me more empathy.”
The Teaneck councilwoman bemoaned the unfair advantage wealthy people have in running for office but doesn’t regret some of the choices she’s made to balance her priorities as a stay-at-home mother.
“This is the life I signed up for,” Romney Rice said. “This is fair game.”
She said her personal finances improved after he was able to secure her own full-time job.
Romney Rice is the only 37th district candidate who has not filed a personal financial disclosure statement with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. That document was due on April 15.
“I’m sure it will be there very shortly, by the end of the week,” Romney Rice said. “There’s a lot to juggle.”