After the city clerk’s office failed to disqualify police officers’ union president Alex Cruz from the mayoral election slated for May due to issues with his residency, city resident Yanet Santana filed a complaint in the New Jersey Superior Court seeking his removal from the ballot.
Santana filed in court on Friday afternoon. Her complaint states government officials failed in carrying out their duties. Citied in the complaint is the investigation report submitted to the clerk’s office by the chief investigator of the Hudson County elections superintendent’s office. His investigation determined Cruz does not live in the city and does not meet the one-year requirement to run for office.
“What we want to accomplish is fight corruption,” said Santana. “Something’s going on that does not add up.”
City clerk Sonia Gordon reviewed the investigator’s report, but decided to not disqualify Cruz.
“We have followed the law,” said the city’s chief attorney Domenick Stampone on Friday afternoon.
Cruz’s campaign continued to assert that he resides in Paterson.
“At the end of the day, Alex Cruz meets all of the requirement to run for mayor of Paterson. This is all politically motivated by the opposition,” said Alex Cruz’s campaign manager Pablo Fonseca. “The residents of Paterson will decide who will be the next mayor and Alex Cruz will be on the ballot.”
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests Cruz does not reside in Paterson. Among them:
- His voting address was changed from Little Falls to Paterson in July 2017.
- His two children attend Passaic Valley High School.
- His driver’s license address which was also changed in July 2017.
- A private investigator surveilled Cruz from Feb. 23 through Mar. 1, 2018. He determined Cruz does not live at 57 Madison Street, according to a report submitted to the clerk’s office. The private eye mentions utility bills at Cruz’s home at Little Falls, a family plaque in front of his house, and the Madison Street lease agreement to back his conclusions.
Cruz has submitted 10 pieces of documents to the city clerk’s office to prove his residency. However, some of his documents raised questions.
Evidence Cruz submitted to prove residency:
- A lease agreement for an apartment at 221 Pennsylvania Avenue with Dynasty Auto Body. Lease is signed and dated Nov. 1, 2016. A second lease agreement for 57 Madison Street, apartment 303, is dated Jan. 5, 2018. The second lease only bears Cruz’s signature.
- Eight PSEG bills. 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.
- A single bill for services at 57 Madison Street from Jan. 2018. This bill is for service at apartment 303.
- A sworn affidavit from Mar. 12, 2018. He swears he resides in Paterson.
The utility bills fail to prove one-year residency in Paterson. For him to prove a year of residency in the city Cruz needs documents that go back to May 2017.
His lease agreements are questionable. 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.
Cruz said his family was “disrupted” by his move suggesting his wife still remains in Little Falls with his children. He is not separated from his wife.
Santana has said she is not aligned with any of Cruz’s five opponents in the race. Cruz has been under fire for failing to address the issue. His campaign held a press conference on Thursday to clear the air, but with little success.
“It’s clear that there are significant issues with Mr. Cruz residency as substantiated by the independent investigation conducted by Hudson County Superintendent of Elections, which corroborate the investigator hired by the lady who filed the claim,” said mayoral candidate Pedro Rodriguez. “With the decision of the Paterson Municipal Clerk, it further shows that anything goes in Paterson and that they don’t follow the law. That will stop when I become Mayor.”
The city clerk has said she relied on the city’s law department’s guidance in making her decisions.
“I don’t know who she is. I don’t know her motive. But I think it’s justifiable if he has not lived here,” said councilman Michael Jackson, a mayoral candidate. “It’s disappointing that he’s a law enforcement agent and already in his candidacy is breaking the law. I think it’s noteworthy.”
Cases such as this are considered emergent matter and are handled quickly in court. A Passaic County superior court judge will likely schedule a court date as soon as next week, according to the parties in the complaint.
Judge Ernest Caposela issued a order on Friday to halt the ballot printing process until a decision is made in the case.
The city clerk is scheduled to advertise the ballot on Mar. 22 and print in April.