In a press release, Zimmer acknowledged the existence of a legal challenge by a group of Hoboken landlords and property owners seeking to overturn the referendum’s results for the second consecutive year, but said her reasons for wanting an investigation are in the public interest.
“Both the Superior Court and the public must have the information they need to evaluate whether the rejected ballots were lawfully cast,” said Zimmer in a statement. “This issue has seriously eroded the confidence of our citizens in the integrity of our election process, and it is imperative that a full investigation be conducted so that the public can have confidence that proper result has been achieved.”
Prior to the election, Zimmer had asked her supporters to vote against the referendum, which would have allowed landlords to remove rent control from buildings with four or fewer rental units once a current tenant moves out, and to allow a one-time decontrol in buildings with five or more units.
Despite her statement, Zimmer did not go as far as to come out in support of the Mile Square Taxpayers Association (MSTA), the group which fought to place the measure on the ballot in the first place and is now alleging that the Hudson County Board of Elections unlawfully rejected almost 300 vote-by-mail ballots.
The suit filed by MSTA is set to be heard in Superior Court later this month. If a judge sides with MSTA, it is possible that the results of the election could be overturned for a second consecutive year. The results of an identical referendum on a 2012 ballot were challenged by MSTA in court throughout much of last year, on the grounds that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy were barred from weighing in on the question because it did not appear on statewide ballots.
Representatives from the Hoboken Fair Housing Association, a tenant’s advocacy group that fought to defeat both referendums, could not be reached for comment. – Dean DeChiaro