IRVINGTON, NJ — Prospective 2018 mayoral candidate Elouise McDaniel and her at large Irvington Municipal Council running mate, Allison Morris, appeared before Newark Superior Court Judge Tom Vena on Friday, March 16, for a hearing. McDaniel is looking to have the nominating petitions Municipal Clerk’s Office decided were invalid be reconsidered, allowing them to become candidates in the municipal election on Tuesday, May 8.
As no one representing the township of Irvington or Wiener’s Office was present for the hearing, Vena postponed it until Monday, April 2.
“We served them yesterday, Monday morning,” said McDaniel on Tuesday, March 20. “We went and tried to serve Renee Burgess over where she works at the Irvington Housing Authority, but she refused to sign the court document, ordering them to come to court to show cause. So we went from there over to Town Hall, went up to the Mayor’s Office and tried to serve Tony Vauss, but he refused to sign also. We gave it to his secretary, Tonya, and she took it in to his office, but he refused to sign and then the township attorney, Ramon Rivera, was called in and he signed for the mayor.”
McDaniel said Rivera had also signed the court documents ordering Wiener, Burgess and council members October Hudley and Charnette Frederic to appear in court on Monday, April 2, for the next hearing.
“We’re here because we’re contesting the filing of petitions,” said Morris on Friday, March 16. “We were supposed to be placed on the ballot. I was missing four petitions to go on the ballot. Miss Elouise McDaniel was missing six. So we’re here, contesting the findings of the municipality of Irvington. They didn’t show up; no one at all. So now we have to come back again in April and they have to show why they did not place us on the May 8 ballot.”
“We’re here contesting the findings of the petitions for mayor and at large council in the May 8 municipal election that we filed on March 5,” said McDaniel on Friday, March 16. “We served Harold Wiener, the Irvington township clerk, to come down and show cause why these petitions were rejected when, according to the statutes, the petitions should not have been rejected. That’s why we want the township clerk and all involved to come down and show cause as to why they were rejected.”
Township officials said they did not show up at the hearing because they did not receive any official notice to appear from the court, despite McDaniel and Morris saying they’d been served with the paperwork.
According to Vauss, Rivera will represent the township at the next hearing. He was unavailable for comment about the March 16 hearing by press time this week and Vauss had not comment for the record about it.
If Morris said McDaniel are disqualified, Vauss, who is 1A on the ballot, will run unopposed for re-election, while their running mate, Barnes Reid, 2B on the ballot, is running alone for an at large council seat against incumbent Councilwoman Renee Burgess, who is 3B; Councilwoman October Hudley, who is 4B; and Councilwoman Charnette Frederic, who is 5B. Burgess, Hudley, and Frederic are running for re-election on Vauss’ Team Irvington Strong ticket with the campaign slogan: “Team Irvington versus Everybody.”
Although Reid only needed 292 petitions, he turned in 392 petitions. McDaniel and Morris insist they turned in enough petitions.
But Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin said challenges and legal disputes regarding nominating petitions are not unusual and his office and the county Board of Elections are on the case.
“In the case of the municipal office candidates, the municipal clerk has access to the Statewide Voter Registration System and made the determination on his own,” said Durkin on Tuesday, March 13. “This is not unusual. There was a residency issue with a Bloomfield school board candidate last year and it went to court and the candidate won the election and proved her residency to the court’s satisfaction. Last year, Republican candidates for at large freeholder needed 100 signatures and we certified 92 and they went to court and a judge ruled them disqualified.”