Court may hear Garcia's appeal today to be on 33rd Assembly ballot; Bhalla says he has 'respect' for Stack
Apr 26, 2013 | 3966 views | 4 4 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia
Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia
HOBOKEN AND BEYOND -- Hoboken Housing Authority Executive Director Carmelo Garcia was knocked off the 33rd District Assembly ballot last week by a Superior Court judge after five Hoboken residents challenged his candidacy. He said his appeal of the decision may be heard today.

Voters in Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and parts of Jersey City have the opportunity to elect one state Senate candidate and two General Assembly candidates for the 33rd District in the Democratic primary on June 4 – but there was confusion over the last two weeks over who would be on the ballots.

Hoboken City Councilman-at-Large Ravinder “Ravi” Bhalla formally announced his candidacy for one of the two Assembly seats on Wednesday. Bhalla will get a boost if Garcia remains barred from running.

Garcia is running on a ticket with State Sen. Brian Stack at the head, and Stack is hard to beat. The other Assembly candidate on Stack's ticket is Raj Mukherji of Jersey City.

The five residents who challenged Garcia's candidacy said he already had a federally funded position as head of the HHA, and that this may bar him, by law, from being an assemblyman. But Garcia said that he believed a 2012 amendment to the Hatch Act that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in January preempted the state administrative code.

Garcia said that before filing his petitions with the state, he had consulted the legal opinions of the Housing Authority’s counsel, the state’s Office of Legislative Services, and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a Washington D.C.-based office.

Mark Albiez, a spokesman for Stack, said earlier this week that the senator had confidence in the appeals process, but declined to speculate on whether or not Stack would back Bhalla or a write-in candidate should Garcia be off the ballot.

Bhalla and Stack have some history. Bhalla’s law firm received a $240,000 contract from Union City in 2007. In 2008, Bhalla’s firm donated $2,450 to Union City First, a pro-Stack political group. The firm received a contract from Union City worth $127,000 later that year. When asked if the firm may contribute again, Bhalla said, “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Mayor Stack; that remains unchanged. There are other partners at the firm, and I think that would be something we’d discuss together first.”

Garcia, for his part, echoed Stack’s confidence, saying that he hopes he will be allowed to run. Asked how he would do both jobs if elected, Garcia referred to himself as the “Energizer Bunny.”

For much more on this issue, please see the cover story in this weekend's Hoboken Reporter, in print or live at starting Sunday.

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April 27, 2013
My apologies. I meant Garcia, not Bhalla. Garcia can have the housing job or the other but not do both. If he has that much free time in his current position he is very obviously doing something wrong or not doing enough right.

Brian S. has had numerous investigations into him as you probably have read or seen and that in itself does not mean the man is guilty. However some of those like the police chief and his ex, he said he has no knowledge of. He knows most ifnotall of what goes on in town. There are only so many things he denies before he has to admit knowledge of some things IMHO. And this latest move backing Carmelo shows a lack of concern for the low income people of Hoboken.

Ravi and friends are afraid to say an unkind word about Stack or his heavyhanded ness in Union City for fear of alienating a powerful political maestro and ally. Call Stack what he is. And please don't donate any more money to him. We have criticized local politicians for much much less. How many investigations do ther have to be before Stack gets criticism too.

This is just my opinion and I would like to hear others.
April 26, 2013
Bhalla needs to devote himself full time to the job he has or give it up.

Stack needs to step down.

And Ravi needs to grow a pair.
April 27, 2013
Right, Garcia can be ED of HHA, state assemblyman and member of the BOE. But Bhalla needs to dedicate himself to one job and grow a pair.

Thanks for those insights.

I'm not even going to ask you to explain those. But why do you want Stack to step down? He's no hero of mine. Just curious.
April 27, 2013
Sorry meant to reply here but replied above. Just getting used to this comment system.