HAWTHORNE, NJ - Resident Philip Speulda said he would have been on his way to Paterson to contest a claim by the borough that he had not won his seat in the Republican County Committee's only contested race, that of Ward 2, District 2.
This election was held in conjunction with the primaries held on June 5. Ward 2, District 2 saw Councilman Bruce Bennett net the highest vote total in this race, with 39 votes. There are two committee representatives per district, but the official party line did not have a second line candidate in this district, nor in Ward 4, District 3, which saw Joseph Amoresano take a seat. In Ward 2, District 2, Speulda took 7 write-in votes, Arthur Metzler 3 write-ins, and David Schroeter 1 write-in. Vacancies are filled by committee appointment.
The Brooklyn-born denizen of Diamond Bridge said that he was told he had not met a requirement of 10 votes, equal to the number of petition signatures required to run for County Committee. Thus, he was ineligible to assume his seat, as per a citing of the NJ state electoral code, Section 19:14-2.1.
The title of the code section reads: "Inclusion on general election ballot of candidate with votes in primary by irregular ballot or write-in vote; requirements". Speulda said that the code referred to a general election ballot, not a primary, and requested clarification from the town. He provided the letter he wrote to the borough to TAPinto Hawthorne.
"I was the highest vote-getter in that category because no other petition was filed," Speulda said, referring to the second empty seat in Ward 2, District 2, where he bested Metzler by 4 write-in votes. "When I pulled up Title 19, I found it, how hard could it be? I was rather upset when they gave me this statute. I was told I didn't make it because I needed ten votes, but I know in the past other candidates got one write-in and were certified. So why did I need ten?"
While Speulda maintains it was not an accident that he was told he did not qualify, the borough clerk certified his write-in victory on Thursday, June 14.
Mayor Goldberg, now the GOP Municipal Chairman, responsible for leading the Party and its decisions going forward, said, "Mr. Speulda had the necessary votes to win a write in on an open County Committee seat. He will be welcomed as a member at the next meeting."
Hawthorne has known Speulda to run for office several times, although he has yet to win a public office. Most recently, in the 2016 general election, he ran as an independent for mayor, using the slogan "Make Hawthorne Affordable Again." He did not win, the victory going to incumbent Republican Mayor Richard Goldberg who successfully battled Democrat Naomi Collier for the position, but Speulda said he was not surprised. "I was an independent when I ran as mayor but rejoined the Republican Party," Speulda said, "which I know was so happy to welcome me back into their bosom."
In 2011, Speulda had launched an unsuccessful bid as a Democrat in the primary election for Ward 2 Councilman against Robert Van Deusen. Van Deusen was in turn defeated by incumbent Republican Councilman John Bertollo.
Speulda said that he would use his position on the County Committee to try to influence the party to go along with his 2016 campaign slogan, itself inspired by President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again," and to oppose what he calls over-development in the borough. "We are supposed to work together for the benefit of the Republican Party. After the last general election's low turn out, we should start by looking at our positions," he said. "The die-hards come out, but the majority weren't happy with their choices."
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