The Primary Election of 2021 in the Town of Kearny continues to get more bizarre by the minute.
Despite being ruled ineligible by the town clerk and a judge in Hudson County Superior Court, Alexis Campos, a former Democratic candidate for the nomination for a seat in the town’s Second Ward, will forge ahead as a write-in candidate, the head of her ticket, mayoral hopeful Sydney J. Ferreira, said in a video posted to social media and in a worded news release, on April 21.
“A few days ago, Alexis’s grandmother asked why her name was written on signs all over town. Her proud father tried to explain that Alexis was running for town council,” Ferreira said. “Not really understanding, her 97-year-old Portuguese grandmother exclaimed, ‘My granddaughter is going to work for the United States.’
“Alexis will hold onto that proud moment, as she continues this journey to seek the town council seat in the Second Ward, and we will be there by her side every step of the way. She is a lifelong resident and has every right to seek a seat in the ward where she currently resides. By disqualifying Alexis from appearing on the ballot and depriving her family of that great honor, they may have disenfranchised all of the residents who signed her petition, but they will not discourage us or her family. I urge our supporters, who live in the Second Ward to write in Alexis Campos under my name on the ballot.”
But does she have “every right” to seek the seat, as Ferreira says?
Judge Jeffrey R. Jablonski and Town Clerk Patricia Carpenter both have already said “no,” she doesn’t.
And Mayor Alberto G. Santos, Ferreira’s opponent in the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination, concurs.
“The residency law on its face applies equally to all candidacies, whether by petition, by write-in or as an independent — objections to a write-in candidacy would be decided by the same court that heard Mr. Ferreira’s and Ms. Campos’s arguments earlier this week,” Santos said.
Still, Ferreira borrowed a page from former First Lady Michelle Obama’s playbook to emphasize his desire for Campos to continue campaigning for the seat for which she’s twice been deemed ineligible.
“When they go low, we go high,” Ferreira said, quoting from Mrs. Obama’s 2016 convention speech. “We will double our efforts. We will knock on more doors. We will walk more streets. We will meet more residents. We will hand out more brochures. And we (will) install more signs. No matter what they try with their legal maneuvering, they won’t shut down this movement.”
This was all made necessary by a challenge to Campos’s petition made by Santos in his capacity as chairman of the local Democratic Party. Citing state election law, he noted that a candidate for office must live in a “local unit,” or, in this case, a ward, for at least a year before being eligible to run.
Carpenter applied the law and disqualified Campos from being the ballot. But Ferreira and Campos filed suit in Hudson County Superior Court, leading to Jablonski’s ruling that Campos was, indeed, ineligible to be a candidate.
Campos offered proof of her residency in the Second Ward with a copy of her lease dated August 2020, which would have been two months short of the one-year requirement. But it is voter registration that determines eligibility, according to several election-law experts, and in Campos’s case, that did not occur until March 9, 2021. Despite moving to the Second Ward in August 2020, election records indicate she voted in the November 2020 General Election in the Third Ward, where her representatives are not the same as in the Second Ward.
Therefore, in all probability, she would not even be able to run as a non-affiliated candidate in the November 2021 election either.
The Observer reached out to the Ferreira campaign this morning for additional comments by email, but we didn’t receive a response.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.