Howes & Howes client Debbie Ferrante-Rivera is the ideal candidate for Little Ferry Borough Council. She is bright, experienced, independent and energetic. Perhaps that is why the local political machine is afraid of her. The Little Ferry Democrats challenged her petition to run as an independent. After a full hearing, Ms. Ferrnate-Rivera’s petition was upheld. She will be on the ballot in November.
The Little Ferry Democratic machine has a unanimous vice-lock on the local government. However, on June 3, 2008, they found out that they had a problem. On the filing deadline, independent candidates filed to run for borough council. These independents were a threat because one of them was Debbie Ferrante-Rivera, a former two-term councilwoman and a former member of the Democratic Party. All of a sudden their monopoly was in jeopardy.
So what did the machine decide to do about their little problem? They tried to use their superior muscle and keep Ms. Ferrante-Rivera off of the ballot.
The machine filed a petition challenge against Ms. Ferrante-Rivera, despite the fact that her petition was valid in form and contained almost double the number of signatures needed for nomination. New Jersey election law provides that a challenge to an independent nominating petition will be heard by a hearing officer appointed by the county clerk. In this case, the hearing officer was a former Superior Court judge who has over three decades experience in election law. After a three hour hearing, the hearing officer ruled that the petition was valid, and that Ms. Ferrante-Rivera would appear on the ballot in the general election.
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