The state has yet to receive 29-day pre-election campaign finance reports from 7 of the 19 people running in the city’s municipal elections, according to New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) records.
In the 1st Ward, incumbent councilman Michael Jackson, who is being challenged by Veronica Ovalles and Antoinette Brevard, has yet to submit his 29-day pre-election campaign finance report which was due on April 11th, 2016.
“The reports are going out today,” said Jackson on Monday morning. He said his campaign is filing both the 29-day pre-election and the 11-day pre-election reports.
Ovalles said she filed her report last Tuesday. State officials have yet to receive Ovalles’ 29-day report as of Monday afternoon. She estimated her campaign spent $15,000 to $20,000. “We spent a lot of money,” she said.
Brevard has filed a sworn statement declaring she does not intend to spend more than $4,500 in this election. She is the only candidate in the 1st Ward in compliance with election laws. She is not required to file detailed reports unless her campaign receives a reportable contribution or her campaign spends above the $4,500 threshold.
Incumbent Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman raised $32,318, according to his 29-day report. He contributed $10,000 from his pocket to his re-election campaign. He continues have $10,070 on hand, according to filings.
Challenger Aslon Goow has filed a sworn statement stating his campaign will not spend more than $4,500 in this election putting him in compliance with campaign finance laws.
Another challenger Eddie Gonzalez raised $19,080, according to his 29-day report. He loaned $18,480 to his campaign, according to his filings. He spent $19,367 resulting in a negative balance in his campaign account, according to the report.
The biggest spender in the 2nd Ward election Shahin Khalique has yet to file a 29-day pre-election report. He said he will have his report submitted within a “couple of days.” A January 15th, 2016 report filed by Khalique showed he had $65,215 in his campaign account. He poured $55,431 into the 2nd Ward race prior to the certification of the candidates.
“We’re making sure our reports are accurate,” said Khalique explaining the filing delay. His big expenditures appear to have forced Akhtaruzzaman and Gonzalez to dig into their pocket to increase spending.
The state has yet to receive 29-day reports from incumbent William McKoy and challenger Kenneth Simmons.
McKoy said the delay resulted from a new accountant at his campaign. He said he anticipates mailing in his 29-day report end of day Monday or latest by Tuesday.
Simmons, who has been speedily reporting his contributions to the state via its online system, said he mailed both his 29-day and 11-day pre-election reports last week. “You actually can’t do it online which makes no sense,” he said of the 29-day report. “It had to be done manually and we mailed it in last week.”
Simmons raised $6,100 as of April 11th, 2016. He loaned $4,800 to his campaign, according to his filings.
Challenger Flavio Rivera raised $8,839, according to his 29-day report. He spent $6,047 and has $2,791 on hand, according to his filings.
Another challenger Lilisa Mimms raised $15,501 and expended $12,580, according to her 29-day report.
Incumbent Ruby Cotton and challenger Della Fischer have filed their 29-day pre-election reports. Cotton raised $17,597, a large chunk of this, $9,000, was loaned to her campaign by Ed Cotton, her husband. She spent $4,251, according to her report.
Fischer raised $1,609 and expended $1,074, according to her 29-day report. The state has yet to receive any filings from challenger Juan Kivelier Sosa.
“I sent it in already,” said Sosa on Monday afternoon. He said his campaign submitted a sworn statement to remain within the $4,500 threshold last week.
Contestants Luis Velez and Chrystal Cleaves have filed their 29-day reports. The state has yet to receive any filings from Wendy Guzman.
Velez raised $9,615 and spent $6,805, according to his 29-day report; Cleaves raised $4,739 and spent $1,392, according to her 29-day report.
Former controversial city community development director Lanisha Makle serves as Cleaves’ treasurer, according to filings.
Guzman did not return a call for comment for this story on Monday.
Both men running in the intense 6th Ward race have submitted their 29-day pre-election reports. Incumbent Andre Sayegh raised $47,340 and spent $28,678, according to his report.
Sayegh’s opponent Al Abdelaziz, who continues to out raise and out spend the incumbent, raised $62,700 and spent $45,239, according to his report.
The timely filings of campaign finance reports by candidates ensures transparency in local elections which allows voters to see the amount of money a candidate has raised, the source of those funds, and the manner in which the money is being spent.