Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5), also a mayoral challenger, is facing an anonymous legal challenge for potentially being on the November 7th ballot twice.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“It is my view that this candidate is not merely prohibited from holding two elected offices, but also prohibited from being a candidate for two elected offices in the same election,” North Bergen attorney Eric Dixon wrote in an August 22nd letter to the office’s of the Hudson County Clerk and the state Attorney General.
“In addition, the adverse consequences of this dual candidacy will be severe to residents of the jurisdictions in which this candidate seeks two offices; if he wins both contests, residents – his constituents – would be deprived of all representation for one full year in the one office the candidate would be prevented from accepting.”
Romano has been dogged about whether or not he will be on the ballot twice this fall since before he officially announced he’d be running for mayor.
At that time, he told Hudson County View “Well, in time we’ll decide with the campaign staff, and others, what road we’ll take in that area.”
More recently, during an August 18th appearance on Hudson County Review Live, said he felt his critics were “deflecting from the issues.”
“It’s not like I know this was going to take place. I ran, I won, my primary re-election for freeholder and then the mayor withdrew after the primary. So with that being said, we have no run-off, and I decided to give it a chance,” Romano explained.
“Some people may think of it negatively, but I believe that I still want to be involved in government.”
Citing case law, Dixon alleges that a candidate cannot submit petitions for two offices that would be voted on in the same election, stressing that either the mayor’s or freeholder’s seat would be vacant until a November 2018 special election.
Dixon also notes that Romano’s situation is different than that if Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-34), who has been tapped to run as the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate by Phil Murphy, since she was only nominated by petition for her Assembly race.
In conclusion, Dixon said that the only way to remedy the scenario was for Romano to end his bid for freeholder or not to file his petitions for mayor.
Romano campaign manager Pablo Fonseca scoffed at the challenge, implying it was a scheme concocted by nemesis/fellow mayoral challenger Mike DeFusco – though he didn’t mention him by name.
“We’re confident Anthony Romano can be on the ballot twice although he can only hold one office. This is a desperate candidate doing this. If you have confidence in your message and the residents of Hoboken, you wouldn’t concern yourself with this issue,” said Fonseca.
“But when you have no traction and no path to victory, desperate candidates do desperate things.”
Dixon noted in the beginning of the letter that he is representing “a resident of Hudson County who is not a candidate for public office and does not wish to be identified at this time.”
“Anyone who tries to run for municipal office has deadlines to submit the petitions, which are due either this week or September 5th,” Dixon explained over the phone.
“After that, anyone who wants to challenge has to do so by Friday of next week. By that time, the challenger will make his or her name public. Romano has not submitted signatures yet, so they may not need to issue a ruling just yet.”
Dixon is also a special contributor for Hudson TV who typically writes op-eds relating to federal cases, as he described it.
A representative from the Hudson County Clerk’s Office, as well as a spokesman for the state AG’s office, did not return emails seeking comment.