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Eatontown mayoral candidate Jasmine Story. (Photo: NJ Globe via Zoom).

Eatontown candidate seeks court order to bracket with running mates

Off-the-line Democratic mayoral candidate wants ballot design altered

By David Wildstein, May 11 2022 3:53 pm

Superior Court Judge Kathleen Sheedy will decide by Thursday morning if off-the-line candidates for Eatontown mayor and borough council can be bracketed together after filing a joint petition with the slogan “Eatontown Democrats.”

Mayoral candidate Jasmine Story wants June 7 primary election ballots to be changed to place her in the same column as her running mates, Todd Miller and Angela Brunelli.

But Brian Nelson, an attorney for Monmouth County Clerk Christine Hanlon, argued the candidates didn’t follow the legal process to be placed together on the ballot and never mentioned bracketing during a court challenge to her nominating petitions last month.

He said Story was “inappropriately raising whether bad ballot design issue, and now constitutional issues as well, seeking to change 82 years of well-established election law.”

Story’s attorney, Brett Pugach, said in his filing that the judiciary “have long-recognized the importance for candidates bearing the same slogan to be able to be featured together on the same column of the ballot.

“New Jersey courts generally have gone out of their way to allow candidates to associate with one another on the ballot, absent physical constraints of the ballot or other important competing  considerations,” Pugatch said.  “The County Clerk has literally created extra columns on the ballot, solely for the purpose of splitting apart like-minded candidates who wish to bracket together.”

Nelson pushed back on that, noting that he worked on the case Pugatch cited, a challenge to organization lines filed by gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler.

Prior to the hearing, Story dropped her request that all vote-by-mail ballots be reprinted and those already sent out be invalidated.

Story is challenging incumbent Mayor Anthony Talerico, Jr. in the Democratic primary.

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