The fight over the legal number of signatures needed to get on the ballot for Morris County Republican Committee is headed to court.
Lawyers for Vincent La Iacona III, whose challenge to county committee candidates in Rockaway Township, filed an appeal in Superior Court today after acting municipal clerk Marcy Gianattasio ruled against seven of his eight challenges on Thursday.
The outcome could affect a fiery battle for Morris County GOP chairman between Ronald DeFilippis and Rob Zwigard in June.
New Jersey election law sets a complicated formula for the minimum number of petition signatures required to run for county committee, but Morris officials insist that the county GOP organization has determined an alternative method of calculating the numbers.
Deputy County Clerk John Wojtaszek told the New Jersey Globe this week that political parties “have the right under case law that they make their own rules.” He cited letters filed in 1994 from the Republican and Democratic county chairmen setting petition guidelines that may conflict with state election law.
Twenty other county clerks follow the formula outlined in the statutes.
And while municipal clerks dealing with petition challenges in other municipalities, like West New York and Linden, issued detailed rulings are holding a hearing, Gianattasio did not provide La Iacona with any details for her decision.
“The courts of the State of New Jersey are often called upon to rule on complicated issues with layers of ambiguity, competing sets of facts, and complicated and nuanced legal principles. This, thankfully, is not such a case,” wrote attorney Christopher Corsini. “The letter of the law for all three Counts of Petitioner’s verified complaint could not be any clearer. Petitioner has no idea as to the reason for the Acting Municipal Clerk’s decision, but in the end, the reasoning does not matter.”
La Iacona alleged that petitions for Republican county committee candidates Catherine Dachisen, Ingrid Sceusi, Sean Connolly, Mary Hollenbeck and Rockaway Republican Club president Raymond Tahan were filed without the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot. La Iacona is running against Tahan. He also challenged three other candidates whose petitions had technical deficiencies.
Gianattasio ruled against La Iacona on seven of the eight petitions. She did remove Hollenbeck for failing to correctly note the right election district on her petition.