A candidate in a non-partisan race for the Cedar Grove Township Council who has run for office unsuccessfully six times before in other parts of North Jersey faces judgements and liens for not paying bills totaling more than $17,000.
Robert Dombrowski, a retired New Jersey Highway Authority employee who held posts with the International Federation of Professional, Technical Engineers Local 196, has a history of being sued for not paying his bills.
In total, courts have ordered Dombrowski to pay $17,079 to compensate those that he stiffed after seven separate lawsuits filed between 2008 and 2020, court records show.
In July, Glen Ridge physician Naveen Ballem sued Dombrowski for $1,270 for an unpaid medical bill in March 2019. Dombrowski never answered the complaint and a Superior Court Judge entered a default judgment against him on October 16.
“I know nothing about them,” Dombrowski told the New Jersey Globe. “I’m going to have to look into that.”
A 2016, a judge entered a $2,200 judgment against Dombrowski when someone who did work at his home claimed he was never paid.
Dombrowski eschewed responsibility for that.
“That was settled. I went to court on that one,’ Dombrowski said. “We straightened it out. It was about the siding.”
The seven-time candidate declined to discuss other judgments and liens, including $10,692 to Capitol One Bank, a credit card company.
“I’m running a grassroots campaign to move Cedar Grove forward,” he said, several times.
Dombrowski’s Facebook page displays his campaign literature and lawn signs, but the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has no reports of contributions or expenditures in their records. Indeed, they have no documentation of his candidacy at all.
His lawn signs say he is “The Homeowners’ Choice,” but records obtained from the Essex County Register of Deeds and Mortgages show that he is not a homeowner. His house is in his wife’s name.
It’s not immediately clear whether Dombrowski, who is on one mortgage for the Cedar Grove residence, is not on the deed in an effort to protect his wife’s home from his creditors.
He would not answer questions about his personal finances.
Dombrowski first showed up in politics in 1993, when the North Arlington resident ran against the Bergen County Democratic organization freeholder candidates in the primary election. He got thrashed, losing by a 3-1 margin.
By 1999, Dombrowski had moved to Fairfield and set his sights on a State Assembly seat against Republican incumbents Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) and Carol Murphy (R-Montville) in the 26th district. DeCroce crushed him by 8,781 votes, a margin of more than 2-1.
Later, Dombrowski set his sights on becoming a councilman in Fairfield. He lost by nearly 1,000 votes in 2008 and was shellacked by a margin of almost 3-1 in 2010. Fairfield voters rejected him for a third time in 2011, t his time by a more than 2-1 margin.
Dombrowski faces 23-year-old incumbent Joseph Zichelli in next week’s election.
Zichelli, a law student at Seton Hall University, was appointed in July following the resignation of Robbie Vargo.
The winner of the special election will complete the remaining seven months of Vargo’s term.