Home>Campaigns>Far Hills petition challenge headed to court, two days after voting begins

Far Hills Borough Council candidate Charles "Skip" Schwester. (Photo: Skip Schwester).

Far Hills petition challenge headed to court, two days after voting begins

Skip Schwester was tossed from ballot because one of his petition signers, a sitting councilman, used a P.O. address

By David Wildstein, April 12 2023 1:45 pm

A candidate for Far Hills Borough Council is heading to court later this month in a bid to get a place on the June GOP primary ballot after the municipal clerk rejected his nominating petition.

Charles Schwester, who wants to take on two Republican incumbents, filed a petition with six signatures, but the clerk, Dorothy Hicks, invalidated two of them.  That left Schwester with one less than the number he needed to qualify as a candidate.

One of the signatories was Peter Cocoziello, Jr., a borough councilman.  Cocoziello had used his post office box address on the petition rather than his home address.  Schwester and Cocoziello sought to cure the issue by providing a street address, but Hicks refused.

“While there are certain defects that are curable,” Hicks said, “the adding of signatures is not a curable defect.”

In court papers, Schwester’s attorney, Alan Zakin, accused Hicks of not curing the verification of a valid petition.

“A more shocking egregious and unconscionable violation is that the Plaintiff as Borough Clerk is familiar with Mr. Cocoziello, a sitting Republican councilman in her own Borough in which she is employed, and is clearly fully aware of his status as a valid Republican voter,” Zakin said.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Shanahan has scheduled a hearing for April 24, two days after vote-by-mail ballots are set to go out.

Schwester filed his challenge on April 6, and Shanahan granted an order to show cause on April 11.

Schwester is challenging incumbents Joseph Carty and Sheila Tweedle.

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