The trial that will determine who – Alex Mendez or William McKoy — gets the 3rd Ward seat on City Council is slated to take place in the summer.
Passaic County assignment judge Ernest Caposela set a tentative trial date for July 21. He is letting both sides to file various paperwork, produce documents, hire handwriting experts, conduct depositions between January 15 and June 21. Both sides will have to submit their trial briefs in the case by July 9.
Former councilman Mendez won the 3rd Ward seat twice, once in May and again in November of last year, by defeating McKoy, a five-term incumbent.
Mendez has been accused of fraudulently winning the first time. He has been charged with committing voter fraud and election fraud by the New Jersey Attorney General. He has denied the charges.
There were no reports of fraud in the November race. However, McKoy, who lost by 13 votes after a recount, alleges the Passaic County Board of Elections counted illegal votes and rejected legal votes.
McKoy’s lawsuit states 39 legal votes cast for him were rejected by the Passaic County Board of Elections for “various improper reasons” such as mismatched signatures. 31 “illegal votes” were accepted. 20 of those voters reside in Paterson, but not in the 3rd Ward, rendering them ineligible to vote in the McKoy-Mendez race. 11 votes were accepted from people who live outside of Paterson. They voted provisionally, says the lawsuit.
“As a result of these acts and others, legal votes were rejected and illegal votes were counted sufficient in number to change the result of the election, cast a cloud on the election, and raise sufficient factual basis to declare the election void and invalid,” states McKoy’s lawsuit.
McKoy wants the court to declare him the winner or nullify the results of the election, removing Mendez from office.
Mendez’s November victory in the 3rd Ward race was certified. He was sworn in and is serving in the 3rd Ward seat.
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Correction: A previous version of this report erroneously stated the two men were battling for the 5th Ward seat. In fact, they are fighting over the 3rd Ward seat.