CHATHAM, NJ - Jeff Hetrick's bid to run for a spot on the Chatham Township Committee as an independent this November was denied by the Morris County Clerk.

Hetrick had petitioned the county to join Republican primary winners, Karen Swartz and Mike Kelly, on the ballot for two open seats on the township committee. But unless Hetrick appeals and wins, Swartz and Kelly will run unopposed in November.

Hetrick turned in a list of 132 signatures on his petition to place his name on the ballot, but 71 of the signatures were challenged and many of them disqualified. Hetrick collected the majority of the signatures while standing outside the entrance to ShopRite in the township and at least 27 of the signatures were signed by Chatham Borough residents or people from other towns.

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Some of the signatures were disqualified because they were not registered voters and others discounted because they did not provide last names. One was signed "Shoprite Employee," who gave his address as Pennsylvania.

The letter from the county clerk stated:

"Dear Mr. Hetrick,

As you have been advised, an objection has been filed to your petition under the provision of N.J.S.A. 19:13-11. As the Clerk of Morris County, with whom your petition has been filed; it is my statutory duty to "pass on the validity of such objection in a summary way." Having reviewed your petition and the objections, I find the petition is invalid Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:13-5, please see the attached itemized explanations.

If you believe the decisions outlined above are incorrect, you may appeal to the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:13-12 on or before the 12th day after the last day for the filing of petitions."