Hours after a Superior Court Judge ruled that Alex Mendez could not be sworn in as a Paterson City councilman while facing charges of tampering with ballots to win his election, his attorney says the campaign has discovered new evidence to dispute claims made by the incumbent he defeated on May 12.
Greg Paster, Mendez’s attorney, filed an affidavit with the court on behalf of Yuderky Menedez Franco, who claims she worked six hours on the Mendez campaign last month and was paid $70 in cash.
But Scott Salmon, an attorney for William McKoy, who is challenging the results of an election that the state Attorney General claims Mendez may have stolen, says that Paster has it wrong and that their affidavit is not for the same witness their investigator spoke with.
According to filings, Salmon’s investigator interviewed Yahaira “YaYa” Mendez, a different person.
Now Menedez could face a complaint that he illegally paid Mendez Franco in cash to distribute campaign literature in Paterson’s 3rd Ward.
Salmon claims that filings made by the Mendez campaign with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission contained no payments to Mendez Franco.
“Campaign workers may not be paid in cash, only by check,” Salmon said. “It is bizarre that (Mendex) would admit to violating the law in their motion and raises the question of whether he advised Ms. Franco that she would be admitting to violating the law when seeking her affidavit.”
In his ruling this morning, Judge Ernest Caposela said he was focused on whether the Paterson election results reflected the true winner of the city council contest.
“It is essential, and beyond argument, that the people of the City of Paterson trust in the
electoral process,Caposela said. “If (Mendez) could be sworn into office despite the allegations, this would significantly reduce the public’s confidence and trust in the electoral process and its trust in government generally.”
Caposela said that “the public deserves to know the true results of the election, which cannot be determined at this time with reasonable certainty.”
“There is far less hardship experienced by leaving a city council seat vacant pending litigation, than allowing the seat to be filled with a candidate who may not deserve to hold that seat in the first place,” Caposela stated.