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New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela hears a Paterson election matter on June 30, 2020. (Photo: NJ Globe via Zoom).

Passaic judge hints of recount extension if asked

Republicans have limited path to pick up a second county commissioner seat

By David Wildstein, November 18 2021 1:08 pm

Superior Court Judge Ernest Caposela suggested today that he’ll extend the deadline for Passaic County Republicans to file for a recount if they need more time to review the results of the close November 2 general election.

It took the Passaic County Board of Elections two weeks to count all the votes, but in a court conference earlier today, deputy attorney general George Cohen said that the state would uphold tomorrow’s deadline for candidates to file for a new count.

“I’m not going to prevent a candidate from seeking a recount,” Caposela said.  “Whatever delay there is because of volume and infrastructure, it’s just going to get tacked on to the deadline.”

Republicans won their first county commissioner seat in twelve years, with Nick Gallo, a landscaper from Totowa, ousting incumbent Assad Akhter by 739 votes in election.

But the path to a second GOP seat appears hugely unlikely.  Democrat John Bartlett, a three-term incumbent, now leads former Wayne Councilwoman Lucy Aileen Rivera by 901 votes.  He had trailed by just 11 votes until provisional ballots were counted on Tuesday.

In the race for Surrogate, Democrat Zoila Cassanova has a 1,656-vote lead over Republican Aisha Mamkej, 50.8%-39.2%.  Mamkej had led until this week.

Jessica Ragno Sprague, an attorney representing Passaic County Republican Chairman Peter Murphy, told Caposela that she had asked to start inspecting return stamps of vote-by-mail ballots.

The county election commissioner, Democrat Shona Mack-Pollock, wants to delay that until after the Thanksgiving Holiday, Sprague said.  Cohen confirmed that was the case.

Caposela made it clear that he won’t let any deadlines pass.

“These are tricky little things that come up,” the judge said.  “I can always extend that if there’s a problem.”

Another GOP county commissioner candidate, Ringwood Councilman William Marsala, is running 348 votes behind Rivera and 86 in front of Akhtar.  Democratic incumbent Sandi Lazzara finished in first place, 1,037 votes ahead of Bartlett.

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