North Bergen mayoral candidate Larry Wainstein attacked Mayor Nicholas Sacco on Thursday, claiming a school renovation ballot initiative pushed by the 24-year incumbent is an attempt to defraud voters.
“This special election was not properly noticed. It is being held at a time to suppress voter turnout and to benefit Sacco’s political machine,” Wainstein said. “I am asking the court to stop Sacco from disenfranchising voters by having an election under a cloak of darkness.”
Wainstein suit, filed last week, claims the city did not provide proper notice for the ballot initiative, which would authorize $60 million in bond payments, with large chunks coming from state.
The largest single expenditure there would would allow the North Bergen Board of Education to purchase an area vocational school. Other funds are dedicated to school renovation.
Wainstein and his attorney claim proper notice of the ballot measure was not given because it was announced in the North Bergen Reporter, a weekly paper, that would have first been able to publish notice of the referendum’s introduction two days before it appeared before North Bergen’s commission.
North Bergen officials also sent notice to the Jersey Journal, a daily paper.
Those aligned with Sacco, who is also a state senator, say the annual costs of those bonds will be covered by contributions from North Bergen’s payment in lieu of taxes program.
The tiff over the referendum is a continuation of a long-standing feud that dates back to at least 2015, when Wainstein challenged Sacco in a mayoral race. Sacco won overwhelmingly.
“Larry Wainstein’s desperate attempt to stop North Bergen voters from having their voices heard is destined to fail just like his multiple campaigns for Mayor have. It’s the height of hypocrisy for Wainstein to oppose this innovative school realignment plan when he has publicly complained for years about overcrowding in North Bergen schools,” a Sacco spokesman said. “This plan would solve that problem without raising school taxes, but of course Wainstein is against it because of pure politics and hatred for Mayor Sacco and anything he proposes.”