After hearing two weeks of testimony and depositions, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli determined that former candidate Denis Jaslow did not legally reside in the township long enough to appear on the ballot.
By law, Jaslow would have had to be a full-time resident of the town at the last municipal election in May to appear on the ballot.
Jaslow, a former North Bergen resident who moved to Dumont, insists that he moved back to the township, first living with his father, then getting an apartment on Cottage Avenue in October of 2001.
However, Gallipoli believed differently and ruled Jaslow ineligible to run at a hearing in Hudson County Superior Court last Friday.
The ruling now leaves only two candidates for the position: Allen Pascual, who was the hand-picked successor by Mayor Nicholas Sacco to replace Peter Perez after Perez pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges three months ago, and Edward "Bo" Scannavino, a former township construction code official and a long-time political foe of Sacco.
The Nov. 5 special election is to fill out the remaining six months of Perez's elected term. The entire Board of Commissioners, including Sacco, is up for re-election in May of 2003.
Thirty-nine-year-old Jaslow, a corrections officer at Rahway State Prison, was disappointed with Gallipoli's decision.
"But it's not about me," Jaslow said. "I'm disappointed for the people of North Bergen. They're not getting a chance to truly have a choice. Actually, I'm a little bit shocked by the decision, but it's up to the judge and it's the decision he made."
Although time is running out, Jaslow and his attorney, Al Alonso of West New York, are considering an appeal.
Scannavino, who initiated the lawsuit with his attorney, Robert Mayerovic of North Bergen, presented phone records as evidence that Jaslow was still residing in Dumont at the time of the latest voter registration last May.
"We knew all along that he was living in Dumont and we had to get him off the ballot," Scannavino said. "Why should a guy move out of town, then want to come back just in time to run? He never even came to meetings. It didn't matter that I thought he might split the anti-Sacco vote. I would have done it for anyone, if they don't belong there."
"Jaslow presented a petition to run that was conceived in space," Mayerovic said. "Not one person could come in and testify in his behalf. It was clear cut that he was not a credible candidate and Judge Gallipoli ruled in that matter after hearing all the testimony."
The election will now pit Scannavino solely against Pascual.
"I think it gives the people a good choice," Scannavino said. "I've lived here for 45 years and I intend to do a good job."
Pascual, a vice-principal at North Bergen High School, said that Gallipoli's ruling didn't have any effect on his campaign. "It didn't matter to me at all whether Denis Jaslow was on the ballot or not," Pascual said. "I've run a positive campaign from the beginning and nothing has changed, regardless of the opposition. I feel good about my chances and I've received a good response. I would much rather promote myself than deal with any negative things."
Jaslow said that the judge's ruling has not deterred him from running for public office. "I'm going to announce my candidacy for mayor with a full slate of candidates," Jaslow said. "They may have won this battle, but the battle is not over."