Two weeks before the Palisades Park election, a judge with political ties ruled that there was probable cause to a two-year-old allegation that Republican mayoral candidate Stephanie S. Jang helped voters at a local senior housing facility fill out vote-by-mail ballot during the 2020 primary election.
Jang, a first-term councilwoman, lost her bid for mayor by 256 votes against Democrat Paul Kim in race where Bergen County Presiding Municipal Court Judge Anthony N. Gallina might have put his thumb on the scale while people were already voting.
In a form letter addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Brandy Malfitano notified today Jang that the prosecution of a citizen complaint had been “administratively terminated.” No explanation was included.
Hours later, Jang forged a bipartisan coalition that blunted Kim’s control of the borough just as he was taking office as mayor.
Kim and David Lorenzo, the controversial business administrator and local political boss, sought to oust veteran borough attorney John Schettino. But Jae R. Park, who switched his party affiliation to Republican in October, Democrat Cyndy Pirrera and Jang joined together in a 3-2 majority to retain Schettino.
The same 3-2 coalition propelled Pirrera to defeat Democrat Michael Vietri for council president, and to knock Lorenzo off the zoning board.
Lorenzo led the efforts to dump the incumbent mayor, Christopher Chung, from the Democratic organization line and replace him with his own candidate, Paul Kim. Kim defeated Chung in the June primary.