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Joel Brizzi

Democrats win East Rutherford anyway

Brizzi loses after court fight to keep Dem off ballot

By David Wildstein, November 07 2018 4:37 am

Democrats won two seats on the East Rutherford council even after losing a protracted legal battle to nominate an incumbent councilman who had lost the Republican primary.

Joel Brizzi, a former councilman, ousted Jeff Lahullier in the GOP primary by a wide margin, 350-204.

Democrats sought to put Lahullier on their ticket when one of their candidates, Derek Sands, dropped out to run Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco’s re-election campaign.

Superior Court Judge Estela De La Cruz ruled in support of what is known as the sore loser law, an issue which has been tested over the years with varying results.

De La Cruz also ruled that Democrats have run out the clock on their chance to replace Sands on the ballot.  But two weeks later, an Appellate Court judge overruled De La Cruz and allowed Democrats to run school board member Daniel Alvarez on a ticket with Michael Lorusso.

Alvarez (1,545) and Lorusso (1,511) defeated Brizzi (1,184) and Thomas Banca (1,163).   Brizzi and Banca are former councilmen.

The other winner of the Republican primary, Councilman George Perry, Jr., died in June.  The council replaced him with another former Councilman, Tom Banca, who is now Brizzi’s running mate.

Brizzi has lost two races for Bergen County Freeholder and was briefly a candidate for State Assembly in the 36th district in 2009.

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