Passaic County Superior Court judge Ernest Caposela issued an order on Friday afternoon restraining the city clerk and others officials from placing mayoral candidate Alex Cruz on the May municipal election ballot.
Caposela’s order follows court filing by city resident Yanet Santana. She had filed an objection with the city clerk; however, due to municipal officials’ failure to act to disqualify Cruz from the race she filed in court.
“It’s a shame they haven’t done it already. It’s their job to protect the citizens of Paterson,” said Santana of municipal officials’ failure to disqualify Cruz in the face of a growing body of evidence that suggests the mayoral candidate does not live in the city and fails to meet the one-year residency requirement to run.
At the heart of the challenge is Cruz’s residency: whether he lives in Little Falls or Paterson. And whether he has lived in the city for a year to run for office.
Cruz changed his voting address from Little Falls to Paterson on July 19, 2017. He falls two months short of meeting the one-year requirement. He has submitted 10 documents – 2 lease agreements and 8 PSEG bills – to prove his residency.
The utility bills fail to prove one-year residency in Paterson. He submitted bills to the clerk’s office that were received at 221 Pennsylvania Avenue. The bills are for service at 384 Madison Avenue, a property Cruz and his wife have owned since 2004. His bills are from Aug. 2017 through Feb. 2018. For him to prove a year of residency in the city Cruz needs documents that go back to May 2017.
His lease agreements also appear faulty. For example, the first lease for the Pennsylvania Avenue apartment starts on Nov. 1, 2016. Cruz voted in Little Falls on Nov. 8, 2016. In a speech in front of the City Hall on Thursday Cruz stated he moved to Paterson in Nov. 2016.
The chief investigator for the Hudson County superintendent of elections has determined Cruz does not live at the Madison Street address and does not meet the one-year requirement.
Charles Blue, the chief investigator, urged the clerk to disqualify Cruz, in his letter dated Mar. 12, 2018. On Mar. 15, the city’s law director Domenick Stampone in a letter re-affirmed Cruz’s eligibility in a letter.
“The Supt. Of Elections has no authority over any candidate’s petition,” said John Brzozowski, deputy superintendent of elections at Hudson County, on Friday afternoon. “Such jurisdiction lies with the appropriate petition filing authority.”
The city clerk appears to have ignored the Hudson County office’s recommendation.
Cruz’s campaign has been dogged by questions of residency since he declared his run for mayor. His campaign has always maintained he meets all the legal requirement to run for office in the city.
The judge will hear the case at 10 a.m. on Monday, Mar. 26, 2018.