Update at 12:27 PM: Superior Court Judge William Anklowitz has ordered the Trenton city clerk to hold off on a ballot drawing and printing of ballots in Trenton’s South Ward until after a court hearing set for Monday afternoon.
Desiree Clark died six years ago, but still managed to sign a nominating petition for Evangeline Ugorji to seek the South Ward seat on the Trenton City Council.
Clark is one of two deceased voters to sign Ugorji’s petition, which her opponent alleges to be riddled with problems, including just 13 valid signatures out of 147 submitted. She needs 68 signatures to get on the November ballot.
A lawsuit filed by Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg this morning asks a judge to toss Ugorji off the ballot before a 3 PM ballot drawing today.
According to the court filing, 49 of the people who signed Ugorji’s petitions are not registered to vote and an additional 29 do not live in the South Ward. Additional deficiencies include 49 instances of pre-printed names and addresses, which Kettenburg’s attorney, Scott Salmon, claims were written by Ugorji.
“The entire petition should be stricken for fraud,” Salmon wrote in his brief. “As two voters have been deceased for some time, it is not possible for them to have signed the petition.”
Trenton City Clerk Brandon Garcia rejected Kettenburg’s challenge but did not offer any reasons for his decision.
“The City Clerk’s office has already reviewed and vetted petitions for candidates to the best of its ability. Letters of certification of candidacy have been sent to those candidates who have achieved same,” Garcia said in his response, records show. “If you wish to appeal the decision further, you may do so in court.”
Voter records show that another signatory, Marilyn Turner, is also deceased.
Ugorji, a Trenton Parking Authority commissioner, faces Kettenburg and Damian Malave for the South Ward seat. Longtime Councilman George Muschal is not seeking re-election.