Home>Campaigns>Sharpe James asks judge to let him on the ballot

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James. (Photo: Harold Edwards).

Sharpe James asks judge to let him on the ballot

Former Newark mayor wants to run for city council in May election

By David Wildstein, March 14 2022 6:59 pm

Sharpe James wants to return to public office and has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Newark City Clerk improperly rejected his nominating petitions to seek at at-large city council seat in the upcoming May non-partisan municipal elections.

The 86-year-old James served as mayor from 1986 to 2006 and as a city councilman for sixteen years before that.

City Clerk Kenneth Louis cited a 2008 court order that permanently barred James from holding public office following a criminal conviction that led to the former mayor serving 18 months in a federal prison

But Thomas Ashley, James’ attorney, disagrees with the former mayor’s disqualification from the ballot.

“Mr. James’ position is that while the July 11th order bars and prohibits him from holding or taking elected office in New Jersey, it does not prohibit Mr. James from running for public office,” he said in court documents filed on Monday.

Ashley maintains that the courts have said that  election laws should liberally construed to maximize the choices for voters in an election.

“The right to run for public office — separate and apart from holding public office – touches on two fundamental freedoms: freedom of individual expression and freedom of association,” Ashley stated.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena has not yet scheduled a hearing.   The drawing for ballot positions is scheduled for Wednesday.

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