Paul Coates, a 44-year-old barber and bail bondsman, was sworn in tonight to fill an unexpired term on the Linden City Council.
Linden Democrats picked Coates to replace Michele Yamakaitis, who left her 8th ward seat on January 1 to become the new council president.
The local Democratic organization submitted the names of Coates, Cynthia Apalinski and Aaron Howard as replacements for Yamakaitis, but the city council declined to pick one of them. State law sends the pick back to the county committee to fill the vacancy.
Coates, a longtime county committeeman, won 20-0.
He was sworn in by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nicholas Scutari, who is also the Linden Democratic municipal chairman and the Union County Democratic chairman.
Mayor Derek Armstead, a Scutari rival, has said that he wants the seat to remain vacant until a November special election to fill the final 26 months of Yamakaitis’ term – a move that appears to violate New Jersey statutes.
There is some speculation that Armstead will look to block Coates from participating in a city council meeting, something that could put the matter into the courts.