ORANGE, NJ – Facts found and rumors cleared up about the process to run for Mayor in Orange.

It was inaccurately reported by another news outlet that “two Orange city council members want to run for mayor and seek re-election at the same time.”

TAPinto Orange East Orange has learned this is not true.

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The Facts:

  1. Council members At-Large Donna K. Williams and Councilman Christopher Jackson are both considering a run for mayor.
  2. In January, both Orange council people took out petitions for Mayor and City Council.
  3. Both candidates have said they never intended to run for both seats. They took out both because they were unsure about which position they wanted to seek.
  4. February 13, 2020, Councilwoman Williams officially stated she will run for mayor and addressed rumors about her running for both seats on video.
  5. For a person’s name to appear on the ballot as a candidate for an elected public office in New Jersey, there is a petition process where you must collect a certain amount of signatures from registered voters in the area.
  6. It is against the law to run for both Municipal Council and Mayor at the same time and has always been.

“This is not unusual to see. Taking multiple petitions out just in case. Anything can happen in politics and people reserve the right to change their mind," said a political insider who wishes to remain anonymous. "It makes sense to take out petitions for both seats if the candidates are deliberating with themselves, family, and political sensei while trying to decide which seat to run for before the petitions are due.”

The misconception occurs because up until the year 2007, candidates used to be able to run for two seats and hold two or more offices at the same time. These seats were not held in the same governing structure on the municipal level, such as mayor and council. These seats were also not elected during the same primary or general election as per a law in 1980 NJSA19:3-5.1. Rather, as long as the elections were held in different years, a person could be a city council member or mayor while also being a member of the board of education, state legislator, county executive, freeholder, etc. Currently, there are a few elected officials still left in the state who hold more than one elected seat because they were grandfathered into the law NJSA19:3-5.2 after it passed in 2007.

In 2018, another law was passed at the state level. NJA4674(18R). This law was inaccurately reported by the same news outlet to be the one Orange council members were “putting to the test.” However, A4674(18R) strictly speaks to federal elections and does not pertain to town elections at all. It was a law that was passed right before US Senator Cory Booker announced his candidacy for President of the United States. The 2020 presidential election is in the same year the Senator is up for reelection for a second term in the Senate. Many believe the law passed so Senator Booker would not have to give up his Senate seat to run for President. Although Senator Booker has since suspended his campaign for President of the United States, this law also clears up any room for misinterpretation by explicitly allowing him to run for vice president and Senate at the same time should the Democratic nominee choose Booker as a running mate.

Now there is another misconception that must be explained. Some have wondered why it was that Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver was able to run for two seats in 2017 when she ran for Lieutenant Governor and 34th District Assemblywoman at the same time. Although this did occur and Oliver did run for both. The laws explained above did not apply because Phil Murphy selected Oliver as a running mate, not nominated. This means Oliver did not have to go through a petition process to seek Lieutenant Governor; instead, Lieutenant Governors are selected after a series of conversations and vetting liken to the process of a President choosing a Vice.

Furthermore, Oliver won the 2017 June primary for Assembly and was not chosen to be Lieutenant Governor on the ticket with Governor Murphy until July 2017 for the November 2017 general election. This means from April to June, Oliver campaigned for Assembly and won, then Oliver was asked to be Murphy’s secret weapon of success. Oliver resigned as Assembly member one day prior to being sworn in as Lieutenant Governor after Phil Murphy won the Gubernatorial campaign.

So there you have it. No one’s name will appear on the ballot twice in Orange nor did either council person ever want or expect it to be.

The election for Orange Mayor is Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The field of mayoral and council candidates looks crowded so far. Even though petition season is not over, three people who announced their candidacy prior to the petition deadline have already dropped out. Once the petitions are filed and the official names of those running for mayor are announced, TAPinto East Orange/Orange staff will be on the scene to cover the race with facts, clarity, and objectivity.

TAPinto East Orange/Orange is an online newspaper serving East Orange and Orange a part of a network of more than 80 franchised local news sites. We are an accredited local news organization and a member of the New Jersey Press Association. We take pride in providing the community with objective news, fact finding reporting, while featuring positive stories and awareness campaigns daily.

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