BREAKING: Garcia wins appeal to run for Assembly, will be on June ballot
Apr 30, 2013 | 2869 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Carmelo Garcia - on the hotseat again.
Carmelo Garcia - on the hotseat again.
HOBOKEN AND BEYOND – Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia won an appeal on Tuesday to a ruling by a judge that temporarily barred him for running for the New Jersey General Assembly. Garcia, who is on a slate with Union City Mayor and State Sen. Brian Stack and Jersey City Deputy Mayor Raj Mukherji, will be included on the ballot for the June 4 Democratic primary.

Often the winner of the Democratic primary goes on to win the general election in November.

The 33rd District includes Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and part of Jersey City. There is one state Senate representative in each district, and two Assembly reps.

Reached briefly by telephone Tuesday, Garcia said that he was “very excited” about the ruling. He said he would issue a full statement later on Tuesday.

Garcia was sued earlier in April by five Hoboken residents who claimed he was ineligible to run because of federal law.

The Tuesday ruling by the Superior Court of New Jersey’s appellate division reversed the decision two weeks ago by Hoboken Judge Peter Bariso, who ruled that Garcia could not run because parts of his salary at the housing authority come from federal funds.

A piece of the New Jersey Administrative Code, which mirrors the federal Hatch Act, bars federally-funded employees from running in partisan elections. But a 2012 amendment to the Hatch Act made it easier to for employees like Garcia to run. Garcia and his lawyer argued in the appeal that the state code simply hadn’t caught up to federal law.

The ruling is bad news for Hoboken City Councilman-at-Large Ravinder “Ravi” Bhalla, who is running as a Democrat but on a separate ticket than the Hudson County Democratic Organization-backed Stack ticket.

If Garcia had lost his appeal, Bhalla would have a much easier time gaining an open Assembly seat.

Despite some speculation, Bhalla said last week he was not behind the suit to bar Garcia’s candidacy.

In a cover story this weekend, both Bhalla and Garcia spoke on various aspects of the situation. See links below.

Watch for updates, and see this weekend's newspaper. – Dean DeChiaro

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