Update: the challenge to Sturdivant’s nominating petitions was filed on Monday, followed by her withdrawal from the race.
Monmouth County Democrats will challenge a nominating petition filed by Democratic Councilwoman Jacqueline Sturdivant as an independent candidate for mayor of Red Bank, saying that she didn’t get enough signatures to be on the November ballot.
But the underlying tone of a statement released on Monday is that that county organization is done with Councilman Edward Zipprich, the controversial Democratic municipal chairman who was behind a bid to mount an independent campaign even as the polls were still open and his mayoral candidate. Michael Ballard was competing with an off-the-line challenger, Billy Portman, who ultimately won the June 7 primary by a wide margin.
The county chairman, David Brown, appears to be supporting Councilwoman Kate Triggiano to replace Zipprich as the local party leader. County committee candidates allied with Portman won a majority of the seats last week.
“Ed didn’t support the Democratic ticket in 2021 after Kate Triggiano won the primary and it is clear he is not supporting the Democratic ticket again in 2022, rejecting the will of 61% of the Democratic primary voters – simply over personality conflicts and personal feelings,” Brown said. “ He is and has not put the Democratic Party first – he continues to put his personal agenda first.
An independent candidate needs 72 signatures to get on the ballot and Sturdivant filed with 84. But of the 84, the New Jersey Globe has leaned that 28 of them also signed Ballard’s petitions to get on the primary ballot.
Among the Sturdivant petition signers were Ballard’s wife and daughter, his two council running mates, Angela Mirandi and John Jackson, and Edward McKenna, a former four four-term mayor.
State election law prohibits voters from signing more than one petition – the petition stated that “we the undersigned…have not signed any other petition of nomination for the primary or general election” – but judges have viewed that requirement as fungible in the past.
The decision to certify Sturdivant’s petitions belongs to County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon, a Republican. Either side can challenge her decision once it is made.
“The time for petty politics has passed. It is imperative that the Red Bank Democrats come together to do what is best for the residents of Red Bank who have spoken clearly on their rejection of this divisive behavior.”