Home>Campaigns>Judge to rule on Union County Dem slate that fell one signature short of getting on ballot

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Alan G. Lesnewich. (New Jersey Globe File Photo).

Judge to rule on Union County Dem slate that fell one signature short of getting on ballot

“Democrats for Change’ ticket needs Lesnewich to validate one of seven signatures under review

By David Wildstein, April 20 2022 5:02 pm

The fate of three off-the-line candidates for Union County Commissioner will likely be decided on Thursday when Superior Court Judge Alan Lesnewich rules on a challenge to their nominating petitions.

Mario Cornejo, Janet Reynolds and Patrick Busch, running under the “Democrats for Change” banner, were invalidated after falling one signature short of the statutorily required 100 signatures required to get on the June primary ballot.

County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi disqualified the petitions after invalidating 50 of the 149 signatures submitted on their petitions.

But an attorney representing the three candidates, Nakich Joseph of King, Moench, Hirniak & Collins, told Lesnewich that seven of the signatures were valid.

Lesnewich needs to agree with just one of the seven to put the slate on the ballot.

“I want to make sure when I make a decision that it’s a correct decision,” he said.

The judge indicated that he expects to visit the Rajoppi’s office tomorrow to inspect the original petitions on file.

Rajoppi testified that time was of the essence since she must begin mailing military and overseas ballots on Saturday, April 23.

She told the judge that with county committee elections, she must print 498 different versions of the primary election ballot.

“It’s a very slow process in collating ballots to the person it’s supposed to go to,” Rajoppi said.

Three incumbent county commissioners — Bette Jane Kowalski, Sergio Granados and Rebecca Williams – are seeking re-election on the organization line.

If Lesnewich rules in favor of Cornejo, Reynolds and Busch, Rajoppi would be forced to hold a new ballot draw.

That would also have an impact on the 10th district congressional primary, since Essex County College Professor Akil Khalfani has bracketed with Cornejo, Reynolds and Busch.  A third candidate, Imani Oakley, would be in the third spot on the ballot.

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