Independent Assembly Candidate Withdraws from 11th District Race

Eatontown, NJ – Nashawn Vazquez, an independent candidate for State Assembly in the 11th district, has been disqualified from the ballot after a judge ruled that he did not obtain enough valid petition signatures to qualify. The 21-year-old Eatontown resident made the decision to withdraw his candidacy following the ruling by Administrative Law Judge Edward Delanoy, who found that three of the 52 signatures on Vazquez’s nominating petitions came from unregistered voters.

Both the New Jersey Republican State Committee, represented by attorney Jason Sena, and Democratic attorney Bill Northgrave had raised concerns about the validity of Vazquez’s petitions.

As a result of Vazquez’s withdrawal, the ballot for the 11th district now includes four candidates: Assemblywomen Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) and Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury), along with their Democratic challengers, Ocean Township Councilwoman Margie Donlon and former Municipal Court Judge Luanne Peterpaul.

Although Vazquez is no longer officially on the ballot, he has indicated that he intends to continue his campaign as a write-in candidate.

“While I won’t be listed on the ballot, I will still actively campaign,” Vazquez stated.

While it is rare for independent candidates to win legislative seats in New Jersey, they can sometimes play a role as spoilers in elections. In the 2021 Assembly race in the 11th district, Green Party candidate Dominique Faison received 1,152 votes, potentially affecting the outcome of the race.

Another notable candidate in the 11th district is Karen Zaletel, a conservative and GOP county committeewoman from Eatontown. She has run for office multiple times since 1996, representing both the Republican Party and running as an independent. Zaletel has filed as the NJ Patriot Party candidate for State Senate and will be challenging State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Republican Steve Dnistrian.

This election is the first to be held under the new legislative map, and several candidates have taken advantage of a 1948 law that requires just 50 signatures on petitions to secure a spot on the ballot as an independent candidate.

Roselle Park Municipal Meeting Agenda Revealed for Thursday

Roselle Park, NJ – The Borough of Roselle Park has released details regarding the upcoming municipal meeting scheduled for Thursday. The meeting is set to commence at 7:00 PM at the Borough Council Chambers, located at 110 East Westfield Avenue.

The agenda for the meeting includes various items to be discussed and addressed by the council. The meeting will begin with the reading of the Public Meetings Law article, followed by a moment of silence or prayer and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Communication items are not listed on the agenda for this particular meeting. Similarly, no proclamations or presentations are scheduled to take place.

A significant aspect of the meeting will be the public hearing on the 2023 Municipal Budget. The council will seek input and feedback from the community regarding the budget proposal before its approval. Additionally, the meeting minutes will be reviewed and potentially approved, pending any necessary corrections.

The council will move on to motion bills and payrolls, which are expected to be passed for payment without being read aloud.

During the public portion of the meeting, residents will have an opportunity to address the council on agenda items. A time limit of 5 minutes per person will be enforced.

Following the public portion, department reports will be presented. However, for this meeting, there are no scheduled verbal reports. Written reports received include the Animal Control Officer’s Report for May 2023 and the Treasurer’s Report for the same month.

The meeting will then proceed to the consideration of ordinances for the second reading. Among the ordinances to be discussed are ORD. No. 2729, which pertains to permitting certain cannabis businesses as a conditional use within specific zones, and ORD. No. 2730, which establishes a fee schedule for the RECRiders Summer Program.

Several ordinances are also scheduled for introduction, including ORD. No. 2731, which amends the Recreation Fees Enumerated section, and ORD. No. 2732, which amends the Building and Construction section to address fees. Additionally, ORD. No. 2733, ORD. No. 2734, and ORD. No. 2735 will be presented for consideration.

The meeting will move on to the consent agenda, which comprises routine and non-controversial matters. A number of resolutions will be approved together unless a council member requests separate discussions for specific items.

After the resolutions, there will be reports from the Borough Council and committees, as well as a report from the Mayor and Mayoral appointments. The public will have another opportunity to address the council during the public portion, with a time limit of 4 minutes per person.

An executive (closed) session may be held, and the meeting will conclude with adjournment.

The next regular scheduled meeting of the Mayor and Council is planned for July 20, 2023.

Westfield Resident Falls Victim to $48K Wire Fraud Scam

Westfield, NJ – In a distressing incident, a resident of Westfield became the target of a fraudulent scheme last week, resulting in a substantial loss of $48,000, as confirmed by the Westfield Police.

On June 6, at approximately 1 p.m., the victim, who resides in the 1700 block of Nevada Street, reported the incident to the authorities. According to the victim’s account, an unknown individual orchestrated a cunning wire transfer operation. The fraudster managed to transfer $28,700 from the victim’s bank account to an undisclosed recipient. Shockingly, the perpetrator promptly followed up with another wire transfer, this time for the amount of $19,980.

Aside from this distressing case, the Westfield Police have been active in various other law enforcement efforts:

On June 4, at 9:47 a.m., Kevin Hernandez, 29, hailing from Linden, was taken into custody subsequent to a routine motor vehicle stop. The arrest took place in a parking lot near the intersection of West North Avenue and Central Avenue. Hernandez was found to have a warrant issued by Clark Municipal Court, amounting to $500. After the arrest, Hernandez was released at the scene on his own recognizance, with a future court appearance scheduled.

The Westfield Police continue their diligent work in investigating the wire fraud incident, urging residents to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to protect themselves from falling victim to such scams.

Monthly Sentencings Reported in Sidney Municipal Court

Sidney, NJ – The Sidney Municipal Court recently released a list of individuals who appeared for sentencing during the month of April 2023. Each sentence includes the cost of prosecution, ensuring full accountability for the offenses committed.

Among those charged, Cheyenne Nicole Lemmon, 22, of Sidney, faced a fine of $136 for failure to control and weaving. Ova L. Keys, 44, of Sidney, received a $130 fine for a violation related to right of way/stop/yield signs. Sadia Guy Modest Diomande, 45, of Sidney, was charged with reasonable control and ordered to pay a $130 fine.

Daouda Sakho, 29, of Sidney, was held accountable for operating an unsafe vehicle and received a fine of $255. Quentin Thomas Couch, 21, of Sidney, faced a $161 fine for driving under restrictions and child support. Michael Salinas, 30, of Sidney, was charged with driving within lanes/continuous lines and fined $136.

The list of sentencing continued with various individuals facing fines for offenses such as speeding, driving under suspension, and other traffic violations. Offenders from other states, including Hurricane, West Virginia, Leonia, New Jersey, Mendota, Minnesota, and Clinton Township, Michigan, also appeared in Sidney Municipal Court.

The court aims to ensure public safety and maintain order on the roads by holding individuals accountable for their actions. Each case is handled individually, and appropriate fines are levied based on the severity of the offense.

The Sidney Municipal Court serves as a vital component of the local justice system, upholding the rule of law and ensuring that all citizens are treated fairly and justly.

New Jersey Senate Advances Bill to Close “Stranger Loophole” in Stalking Laws

Trenton, NJ – In a unanimous decision, the New Jersey Senate moved closer to passing a bill aimed at addressing a critical gap in the state’s stalking and harassment laws. The proposed legislation seeks to provide victims of stalking or cyber harassment with stronger protections when they become targets of strangers.

The bipartisan bill, which has gained significant support, aims to eliminate what is commonly referred to as the “stranger loophole.” This loophole often hinders victims from seeking protective orders against individuals they have no familial ties with, making it more challenging, if not impossible, for them to find recourse.

Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex), the primary sponsor of the bill, emphasized the importance of closing this legal loophole. “While most stalkers tend to be current or former partners, in nearly one-fifth of cases, the perpetrator is a stranger. Stalking can go on for months or even years, forcing people to live in fear with no legal recourse until the situation escalates,” said Greenstein in a statement.

If enacted, the legislation would grant victims the ability to protect themselves before a situation worsens. The proposed protective orders would not only prohibit alleged assailants from contacting victims but also prevent them from entering the victim’s workplace, residence, and other locations as specified in the court-issued orders. Additionally, the bill would encompass future acts of stalking, cyber harassment, and sexual assault under its protective umbrella.

Currently, New Jersey law permits victims of domestic violence to seek protective orders for stalking and cyber harassment. However, the existing Sexual Assault and Survivor Protection Act does not extend the same protection to victims without a prior relationship with their assailants. The bill aims to rename this act as the Victims Assistance and Survivor Protection Act and broaden its scope accordingly.

While existing laws do allow adult victims of stalking to obtain restraining orders against strangers, such actions require the perpetrator to first be convicted on related charges. This limitation has hindered law enforcement from efficiently handling harassment complaints from certain victims. “They can’t take her to a court and get a restraining order against this guy because she never dated him or has no relationship, so what do you have to do? You then have to go to the court, fill out a criminal complaint, and now it comes up in the municipal court,” explained Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Union), one of the bill’s sponsors. “If you’ve had any experience in municipal court, it’s a nightmare.”

Under the proposed legislation, acts such as electronic threats to commit violence, the release or threat to release obscene photos, or the intent to commit a crime would fall under the definition of cyber harassment.

The bill now awaits a full vote in the Assembly, where lawmakers will have the opportunity to endorse this crucial expansion of protections for stalking and harassment victims.

In other news, the Senate has also unanimously concurred with Gov. Phil Murphy’s conditional veto of a bill regarding the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System. Additionally, senators unanimously voted in favor of a measure requiring public contractors to submit payroll records electronically, with the Assembly set to vote on the matter later this week.

Holmdel Municipal Court Finds New Home at Colts Neck Township Municipal Complex

Holmdel, NJ – The Holmdel Municipal Court has successfully relocated to the Colts Neck Township Municipal Complex, marking a significant step in the shared services agreement between the two townships.

Conveniently situated at 1 Veterans Way, Colts Neck (or 124 Cedar Drive, Colts Neck for GPS directions), the new court address ensures accessibility for all. The court’s contact information, including phone number (732-946-2820 Option #2) and fax number (732-409-6438), remains unchanged, facilitating seamless communication.

During a recent Township Committee meeting, Mayor DJ Luccarelli underscored the numerous benefits of the shared services plan, especially in light of the challenging economic climate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement, initially proposed two years ago, has proven to be an effective solution for both Holmdel Township and Colts Neck Township.

Mayor Luccarelli emphasized the township’s commitment to closely monitoring the impact of the shared services arrangement on essential services, particularly the police department. By regularly assessing reports and seeking input from the Holmdel police chief and municipal judge, the township aims to ensure that the shared services plan aligns with their expectations.

Deputy Clerk Brian O’Malley, who also serves as the Holmdel public information officer, provided valuable insight into the estimated savings for 2023. Based on historical staffing levels, these savings are projected to amount to approximately $171,000, primarily attributed to the shared personnel costs with Colts Neck Township.

In line with the agreement, Holmdel Township will make a payment of $235,000 to Colts Neck Township in 2023 to cover the operation of Holmdel’s court. While physical appearances at the court will now be held in Colts Neck, the court aims to facilitate a significant portion of transactions through online channels, ensuring convenience for court visitors.

The relocation became possible thanks to the near completion of a major rebuilding project at the Colts Neck Municipal Complex, which now serves as the new home for Holmdel’s Municipal Court operations. Previously, during renovations in Colts Neck, the shared operation was temporarily housed in Holmdel. As of October 1, 2021, the shared services agreement officially commenced, facilitating a smooth transition for court proceedings and operations.

Holmdel Municipal Court Relocates to Colts Neck Township Municipal Complex

HOLMDEL, NJ — The Holmdel Municipal Court has found a new home within the Colts Neck Township Municipal Complex as part of a shared services agreement between the two townships.

Located at 1 Veterans Way, Colts Neck (or 124 Cedar Drive, Colts Neck for GPS directions), the new court address remains easily accessible. The contact information, including phone number (732-946-2820 Option #2) and fax number (732-409-6438), remains unchanged.

During a recent Township Committee meeting, Mayor DJ Luccarelli highlighted the benefits of the shared services plan, particularly its cost-saving advantages for Holmdel Township, especially amidst the revenue decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shared services agreement was proposed two years ago and has proven to be an effective solution.

Luccarelli expressed the township’s commitment to closely monitoring the arrangement’s impact on the police department and other essential services that need to commute to the new location. Regular reports and input from the Holmdel police chief and municipal judge will help assess whether the shared services plan meets the township’s expectations.

Deputy Clerk Brian O’Malley, who also serves as the Holmdel public information officer, shared that the estimated savings for 2023, based on historical staffing levels, amount to approximately $171,000. The majority of these savings are attributed to the shared personnel costs with Colts Neck Township.

As part of the agreement, Holmdel Township will pay Colts Neck Township $235,000 in 2023 to cover the operation of Holmdel’s court. While physical appearances at the court will now be held in Colts Neck, a significant portion of transactions can be conveniently completed online.

The relocation became possible due to the near completion of a major rebuilding project at the Colts Neck Municipal Complex, which accommodates Holmdel’s Municipal Court operations. The shared operation was previously housed in Holmdel while renovations took place in Colts Neck until October 1, 2021, when the shared services agreement officially commenced.

AFL-CIO Endorses Republicans in South Jersey, Backs Democratic Challengers in Select Districts

In a move that diverges from the Building and Construction Trades Council, the New Jersey AFL-CIO has thrown its support behind seven Republicans in South Jersey. However, the AFL-CIO has also decided to endorse Democratic challengers in specific State Assembly races, demonstrating a nuanced approach to political endorsements.

In the fiercely contested 4th district, the union has chosen to endorse Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Washington Township) for an open State Senate seat, pitting him against former Washington Township councilman and Republican candidate Christopher Del Borrello. For the Assembly seats in the same district, the AFL-CIO has endorsed Republican Matthew Walker, a former Buena councilman. Notably, no endorsement has been made for the second Assembly seat. This endorsement follows the recent decision by Bill Mullen, president of the state building trades, to endorse Democrats Dan Hutchinson and Cody Miller over Matthew Walker.

The AFL-CIO has also thrown its support behind three Republican incumbents for re-election. State Senator Vince Polistina (R-Egg Harbor Township), Assemblyman Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City), and Assemblywoman Claire Swift (R-Margate) have all received the union’s endorsement. In the 2nd district, however, the building trades have opted not to support any candidate.

In the 3rd district, the AFL-CIO has endorsed Democrat John Burzichelli, a former ten-term assemblyman challenging State Senator Ed Durr (R-Logan). For the Assembly seats in the same district, the union is backing Democrats Heather Simmons, a Gloucester County freeholder, and Dave Bailey Jr., who are running against Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington) and Hopewell Township Committeeman Thomas Tedesco.

The AFL-CIO has taken a different approach in the 8th district, endorsing Republicans for all positions. Latham Tiver, a business agent for Operating Engineers Local 825, has received the union’s endorsement for the Senate seat, while incumbents Brandon Umba (R-Medford) and Michael Torrissi Jr. have been endorsed for the Assembly.

In the 1st district, the AFL-CIO has not made an endorsement for the State Senate race, where Republican Michael Testa Jr. (R-Vineland) seeks a third term. However, the union has endorsed Testa’s running mates, Assemblymen Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City) and Erik Simonson (R-Lower Township).

Turning to the 11th district, the AFL-CIO has chosen to back Democratic challengers Luanne Peterpaul, a former municipal court judge, and Ocean Township Councilwoman Margie Donlon in their bids to unseat Republican Assemblywoman Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) and Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury). State Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) has also received the union’s endorsement in the same district.

In the 40th district, labor endorsements have gone to Democrat Jennifer Ehrentraut, a Hawthorne school board member challenging State Senator Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), as well as her Assembly running mates, Giovanna Irizarry and Jennifer Marrinan. They will be up against Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Wyckoff) and Essex County GOP Chairman Al Barlas.

The AFL-CIO has decided not to make endorsements in the 10th, 13th, 23rd, 24th, 26th, and 39th districts, all of which are currently held by Republicans. State Senator Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) has secured the AFL-CIO’s backing, but not the two GOP assemblywomen, Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) and Michele Matsikoudis (R-New Providence).

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech emphasized the significance of these legislative elections for their members and stressed the importance of electing pro-worker majorities. The endorsed candidates have been recognized for their support of working people, and the AFL-CIO will now rally behind them as they approach Election Day.

Eatontown Sees Revenue Surge from Recreational Cannabis Sales

In its first year of allowing recreational cannabis sales, the borough of Eatontown has experienced a significant boost in tax revenue. According to the borough’s chief financial officer, sales tax revenue from cannabis amounted to a precise figure of $225,534.38. This amount surpasses the combined revenue generated from municipal court fines and liquor licenses in the previous year, as indicated by budget documents.

Encouraged by this financial success, the borough’s elected officials are now exploring avenues to further increase tax revenue. Their plan involves expanding the number of licenses permitted for cannabis retail, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and wholesale activities within the town. Currently, Eatontown only allows three licenses for cannabis retailers and two each for cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.

Mayor Anthony Talerico Jr. expressed confidence in the borough’s ability to attract applicants for these licenses. However, Ron Wallner, Chair of the borough’s Economic Advisory Committee, hinted at potential challenges for businesses operating in a highly competitive market.

When it comes to public safety concerns, Eatontown Police Chief William Lucia reassured the Asbury Park Press that he has no more reservations about additional cannabis retailers than he does about any other type of retail establishment.

The borough collects a 2% sales tax from retail, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution sales, along with a 1% tax from wholesale licenses. However, at present, only one retail business, AYR Wellness NJ (formerly known as Garden State Dispensary), is in operation. It is worth noting that the borough does not impose any tax on medical marijuana sales.

To accommodate the expansion of the cannabis industry, Eatontown is considering amending its land use rules to allow for up to four licenses each for the aforementioned cannabis businesses. The Borough Council had prepared the new rules for introduction on Wednesday but decided to postpone the introduction until June 28 due to debates surrounding changes in parking requirements, with proposed adjustments from four spots to seven per 1,000 square feet of retail space.

Parking has been a challenge at AYR Wellness, the borough’s sole retail and medical marijuana dispensary, as it has attracted a large number of customers.

The proposed changes to the rules would also expand the areas where cannabis distribution, cultivation, manufacturing, and wholesale businesses are permitted. The new zones would include Industrial Way East to Wall Street, Meridian Road, Corbett Way, Christopher Way, and James Way.

Eatontown’s experience highlights the significant financial benefits that can arise from legalizing recreational cannabis. As the borough strives to fine-tune its regulations and expand the industry, it remains on track to further capitalize on the thriving market.

Democrats Rally Behind LGBTQ Assembly Candidates During Pride Month

In an effort to increase LGBTQ representation in the New Jersey Legislature, Democrats are throwing their support behind a group of four Assembly candidates. With Pride Month in full swing, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee LGBTQ Caucus has issued “special pride month endorsements” for the four individuals vying for seats in the Assembly.

The candidates receiving this significant backing are Luanne Peterpaul, running in the fiercely competitive 11th district, Raya Arbiol in the 12th district, Paul Eschelbach in the 13th district, and Diane Salvatore in the 25th district. These individuals have not only demonstrated a strong alignment with the values of the Democratic Party but also offer unique perspectives due to their lived experiences as LGBTQ individuals.

Lauren Albrecht, Chair of the NJDSC LGBTQ Caucus, expressed the caucus’s pride in endorsing these exceptional candidates, emphasizing their potential to enhance legislative representation by amplifying the voices of the LGBTQ community. Albrecht stated, “Their commitment to equality and social justice will undoubtedly contribute to making New Jersey a more inclusive and accepting place for all.”

The 11th district race, in particular, has garnered attention as Luanne Peterpaul, a former municipal court judge from Asbury Park, takes on two Republican assemblywomen who defeated long-term incumbents in the previous election cycle. By endorsing Peterpaul, along with the other candidates, the NJDSC LGBTQ Caucus aims to underscore their dedication to creating a more inclusive society and advancing LGBTQ rights.

Since the resignation of Reed Gusciora in 2018 to assume the mayoral role in Trenton, Democrats have been without LGBTQ representation in the Assembly. This latest move by the party signifies a renewed commitment to rectifying this gap and ensuring that the LGBTQ community’s concerns and perspectives are adequately represented in New Jersey’s legislative landscape.