JERSEY CITY – Ward B City Council candidate Khemraj Ramchal may have to kiss his “Chico” goodbye.
Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. has ordered Ramchal to appear in court on Thursday, March 28 at 11 a.m. and to bring with him his “New Jersey drivers license, birth certificate, and/or naturalization papers indicating the name he used upon becoming a U.S. citizen,” according to an order Bariso signed on March 26.
Ramchal, who was born in Guyana, has long been known by the nickname Chico, and has requested that his nickname be included on the ballot for the upcoming Jersey City municipal elections. Jersey City Clerk Robert Byrne is charged with putting together the official ballot for the municipal election, to be held on May 14, and is currently prepared to grant Ramchal’s request.
But last week, fellow Ward B candidate Gerald Meyers filed papers in court to block the use of the nickname on the ballot, arguing that the inclusion of nicknames on election ballots violates New Jersey state law.
“The clerk is without authority to allow the use of anything other than the use of a candidate’s given name to appear on the ballot,” an attorney for Meyers stated in a civil complaint to the court. “The clerk’s action in this matter, including the use of the nickname ‘Chico’ with Mr. Ramchal’s name on the ballot, is in violation of New Jersey law.”
Myers is petitioning the court to force Byrne to draw up ballots that list his opponent as Khemraj Ramchal, rather than as Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal.
In a hearing held Tuesday, Judge Bariso ordered Ramchal to appear in court with several pieces of government-issued identification. If none of these pieces of ID include the nickname Chico, it is possible that Judge Bariso could rule in Myers’ favor.
In his March 26 order, Bariso wrote: “It is…ordered that defendants [Robert Byrne and Khemraj Ramchal] show cause…before the court why an order should not be entered restraining [Byrne] from printing or distributing the ballot for the May 14 Jersey City municipal election; and ordering defendant [Byrne] to prepare the ballot for Ward B…so as only to list Khemraj Ramchal, without the use of any nickname.”
Meyers is the Ward B City Council candidate for Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy. Ramchal is the Ward B candidate for Councilman Steven Fulop, Healy’s main challenger in the mayoral race.
Other candidates running in Ward B include Esther Wintner, Jesus Tosado, and Chris Gadsden. – E. Assata Wright