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New Jersey Administrative Law Judge Gail M. Cookson. Photo courtesy of the Two Rivers Times.

Judge who will decide Kanye West’s fate is the ‘Iron Grandma’

Gail Cookson has been an administrative law judge for 12 years

By David Wildstein, July 30 2020 2:12 pm

Gail M. Cookson, the judge who will determine whether Kanye West can be on the New Jersey ballot as an independent presidential candidate, is known as “Iron Grandma.”

The 66-year-old grandmother began competing in Ironman competitions sixteen years ago and has completed several triathlons and long-distance runs.

Cookson has been an administrative law judge since 2008.  She was originally nominated by Gov. Jon Corzine and spent eleven years as a deputy attorney general in the 1980s and 1990s.

She has experience in election matters.

In 2009, Cookson was the administrative law judge assigned to hear a petition challenge in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells had rejected a bid by Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine to run for governor after one of his opponents, Steve Lonegan, alleged that he hadn’t filed enough signatures on his petition.

Levine appealed the ruling and Cookson upheld the decision to strike Levine from the ballot in a primary ultimately won by Chris Christie.

Before joining the bench, Cookson served as general counsel to a national computer forensics firm.

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