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New Jersey Superior Court Judge Estela De la Cruz.

Judge blocks Rochelle Park Democrats from taking office

Close race now in court as GOP challenger, trailing by 4 votes, challenges 60 votes counted in November 3 election

By David Wildstein, December 24 2020 10:43 am

Two certified winners of a disputed election for Rochelle Park township committee will not take office next month after a Superior Court Judge ruled that the merits of a challenge to the November 3 election justify delaying the swearing-in ceremonies.

Just five votes separate three candidates for the two seats: Democrats Linda Boniface (1,544) and Michael Warren (1,543) lead Republican Perrin Mosca (1,539).

Mosca has alleged that 15 votes were cast illegally by individuals who were not residents of Roselle Park at the time and an additional 11 votes were improperly disqualified.

Additionally, the Republicans are challenging 34 ballots cast from an assisted living facility in Rochelle Park that were delivered to a drop box, exceeding the legal limit of three per messenger.

“These votes are sufficient to change the election results,” said Judge Estela De la Cruz.  “I cannot conclude that anyone could be allowed to take office until this situation is resolved.  “This is enough to change the results of this election.”

Boniface, an incumbent, and Warren were due to be sworn in on January 2.  Neither attended today’s virtual hearing.

Deputy state attorney general Dominic Giova was present, but said the state took no position on the delay of the swearing-in until the election challenge can be completed.

The delay does not affect the partisan control of local government.  The other three seats are occupied by Republicans.

The court will resume hearing the election challenge on January 15.

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