A longtime Andre Sayegh supporter’s petition challenge to disqualify councilman Alex Mendez from the mayoral race has failed.
City Clerk Sonia Gordon rejected the challenge on Wednesday. Sayegh supporter Vincent Iannaccone objected to more than 150 Mendez petitions. His challenge filed by Sayegh-linked law firm Genova Burns claimed there were enough invalid petitions to knock Mendez below 867 signatures.
If Mendez fell below the threshold of 867 petitions, he would not be eligible to run for mayor.
“This was another frivolous attempt by the mayor to stop me from running. He put the reputation of the City Clerk on the line and is forcing the city to spend more taxpayer dollars counting those petitions,” said Mendez. “He got all his dark money to hire this law firm that costs $700 an hour to try to go after me.”
Sayegh claimed Mendez is the one failing to adequately report his campaign spending. He claimed Mendez is “being investigated for failing to file financial reports.” Sayegh could not produce any evidence that shows Mendez is under investigation.
Mendez said he has not received any notice of investigation by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).
Sayegh described Mendez as a “scofflaw.”
The City Clerk reviewed the 158 petitions that were challenged and provided responses to each to the law firm.
Some of the reasons cited by the law firm included Mendez submitting petitions from voters who had signed other candidates’ petitions, discrepancy with voter names, and duplicate petitions.
“Because Mr. Mendez was first in submitting petitions, any other candidate who filed after him runs the risk of having the same voter signing their petitions,” wrote Gordon in a letter to attorney Rajiv Parikh of Genova Burns. “
Parikh did not respond to a call for comment for this story.
Gordon also stated some petitions challenged by the law firm were not used to qualify Mendez. Mendez submitted 1,141 petitions. Her letter stated petitions that were not used to certify Mendez as a candidate were clearly marked as “Unchecked Petition,” but still they were challenged.
Sayegh’s supporter will have to file in court if he wants to further pursue challenging Mendez’s petitions. But that effort is likely to be costly and fail.
“He’s been trying to take me out in so many different ways. Now the Paterson resident know that,” said Mendez speaking of Sayegh. “He’s going to lose on May 10. The people of Paterson are tired of him and his administration.”
Mendez and Sayegh are among five people seeking the mayor’s seat. Others are former councilman Aslon Goow and councilmen Luis Velez and Michael Jackson.