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

Linden Democrats headed to court

Seek order to force Armstead to seat new councilman

By David Wildstein, February 08 2019 9:58 am

A Superior Court Judge is about to hear arguments in a lawsuit filed this morning to force Linden to seat Democrat Paul Coates as a new city councilman.

Linden Democrats picked Coates to on Wednesday to replace Michele Yamakaitis, who left her 8th ward seat on January 1 to become the new council president.

The local Democratic organization submitted the names of Coates, Cynthia Apalinski and Aaron Howard as replacements for Yamakaitis, but the city council declined to pick one of them.  State law sends the pick back to the county committee to fill the vacancy.

Coates, a longtime county committeeman, won 20-0.

He was sworn in by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nicholas Scutari, who is also the Linden Democratic municipal chairman and the Union County Democratic chairman.

Mayor Derek Armstead, a Scutari rival, has said that he wants the seat to remain vacant until a November special election to fill the final 26 months of Yamakaitis’ term – a move that Coates’ lawyer says is illegal.

Coates is being represented by David Minchello, while the city attorney is his former law partner, Daniel Antonelli.    Minchello is a partner in Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s law firm.

This case should be a slam-dunk for Coates, since this is one of the few areas of state election law that is actually clear and with hundreds of precedents.   The law, passed in 1980, was written by Senate President Joseph Merlino (D-Trenton) and Senate Majority Leader Steven Perskie (D-Margate).

02 07 19 - FILE - OTSC and Verified Complaint (Linden Council Matter)
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