PATERSON, NJ - In a detailed legal filing reviewed by TAPinto Paterson, Third Ward Councilman Bill McKoy has asked a judge to disallow Alex Mendez, the certified winner of the May 12 election contest, from being sworn in to the position on July 1.
In a statement, McKoy clarified that he was not seeking to be “given Mendez’s seat,” but rather that a special election be held “to ensure that we are hearing the voice of the people.” Mendez would be free to run in that election McKoy said before adding, “may the best candidate win through a fair competition.”
Earlier this month McKoy filed a separate motion to have the election held over again in light of what his campaign termed irregularities in how the ballots were cast and votes counted.
This newest legal action came the day after Mendez, along with three other men, including First Ward Councilman Michael Jackson, were charged with a variety of voting fraud crimes, including, in the Mendez’s case, collecting and submitting one or more voter registration applications which he knew to be false, fictitious or fraudulent, a crime punishable by 10 years in prison.
Mendez responded to the “accusations” by saying he expected to be sworn in “to continue the work I’ve been doing for the community for years.”
Earlier this month Mendez raised his own concerns about how the election was conducted, calling for investigations by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, as well as the Paterson City Council, into what he believed were attempts to suppress the votes of Hispanic residents.
Allowing Mendez to be sworn in, McKoy’s attorneys argued, could cause “irreparable harm” to the City.
Specifically, they said, as a Councilman Mendez would be “entitled to vote on critical issues facing Paterson,” including on a $285 million dollar budget, tax rates, and approval of public contracts. “No matter what happens,” related to the charges against Mendez, the argument read, “these votes cannot be undone.”
“It is manifestly unfair to allow Mr. Mendez to take this seat when there is credible evidence that he has only obtained the seat by virtue of fraud.”
Acknowledging that it is not common for a judge to take such an action, the filing read, “this is not a typical case so typical procedure should not be followed,” and that there was no relief being sought that “cannot be undone if it turns out the facts do not support the granting of relief.”
While the motion only called for the judge to act in relation to the Third Ward seat, McKoy’s statement also indicated that he believes that First Ward Councilman Michael Jackson also should be sworn back in for a new term. If Mendez and Jackson are sworn in, McKoy argued, both “will directly benefit from the fraud of which they are accused, which will make a mockery of the system that many have fought and died to protect.”
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