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Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nicholas Scutari, right, administers the oath of office to Linden councilman Paul Coates

Linden council rejects settlement

Coates headed back to court in bid to get sworn in

By David Wildstein, May 02 2019 7:52 pm

The ball is back it Kit Dupuis’ court.

A settlement in a dispute over a vacant Linden city council seat went south tonight when the governing body voted down the proposal, 6-4, after calling a special meeting to resolve the issue.

That means Dupuis, a Superior Court judge who has been handling the case, will now need to make a ruling on whether Paul Coates, the winner of a municipal committee vote, should be seated.

The 8th ward seat has been vacant since January 1, when Michele Yamakaitis resigned to become the council president.
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The issue went to court after mayor Derek Armstead, who doesn’t get along with the State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the Linden Democratic municipal chairman, refused to accept any of the party choices. He said he wants the seat to remain vacant until a November special election and has refused to seat Coates.

Scutari, who is also the Union County Democratic chairman, has maintained that the process for filling a municipal council vacancy is that municipal committee of the party that won the seat submit three names to submit to the governing body. They can either pick one name, or return the choice to the political party.

Sources with knowledge of the proposed settlement said that if the council approves the settlement tonight, the municipal committee would hold another meeting and submit a name to the council, which would agree to seat that person.

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