WEST ORANGE — Mayoral race heats up with Fraud Allegations

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PHOTO: The above are photos that show the actual signatures that appear on four petitions filed by mayor Rober D. Parisi that are allegedly signed by four different West Orange residents.

As the Mayoral race in West Orange heats up, allegations of fraud surfaced this week after the filing of nominating petitions.  City Clerk Karen Carnevale was unable to certify certain of the petitions filed by incumbent Robert Parisi, which prompted a challenge by Mayoral Candidate Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. after obtaining knowledge that 16 of Parisi’s petitions were not certified by his own city clerk.  “The clerk’s action became the catalyst for further scrutiny of Mayor Parisi’s petitions”, said Neil Cohen, Hawkins’ campaign manager.  Cohen noted that he felt sorry for the position in which Parisi’s actions placed his own city clerk who ultimately sought legal counsel.

After comparing signatures on the petitions with those in the official voter registration log, certifications were filed by Gerald Murphy, and Attorney Eldridge Hawkins, Sr. targeting the validity of some 80 petitions filed by Robert Parisi.  Allegations certified by the two individuals indicate fraudulent signatures—some are attached for everyone’s personal scrutiny. Murphy and Hawkins also indicated that petitions were submitted by non registered voters and another by a voter who was recorded as deceased.  

“Parisi, who submitted only 300 petitions for nomination, risks being thrown off the ballot should a high court determine that a due process hearing should have been given to determine the validity of the petitions filed by Parisi”, said Attorney Eldridge Hawkins, Sr. who represents his son along with Dan McCarthy from the firm of Rogut & Mcarthy Firm.  Should only 5 of the validated 284 petitions being challenged be thrown out, Parisi will lose his ability to run for re-election, leaving Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. the only Democrat in the non partisan race for Mayor of West Orange.  Richard Grove a West Orange developer and resident stated that, “Parisi barely submitted the minimum number of petitions to qualify and has been governing the same way…just doing the minimum.  Should he be removed from the ballot, he did it to himself.  We the residents of West Orange deserve better!”

It would appear that Parisi’s low showing of nomination petitions is consistent with early independent polling indicating that 63% of the West Orange electorate prefers someone new to govern as mayor. One might see parity to the polling results by the minimal showing of 300 petitions submitted by Parisi as compared to more than 1000 submitted by Hawkins.                           

Although Mayoral Candidate Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. states that he, “is looking forward to getting these standard procedural issues behind him so there can be continued discussions about solutions for the hard working people of West Orange”, resident Joe Sorbino feels that promoting transparency is a solution. Sorbino stated, “I commend Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. for continuing to pursue the fight for transparency and good government, unlike Parisi”. Sorbino continued, “West Orange needs representatives like Eldridge who are strong enough to stand up to officials who act like bullies and waste tax payers’ dollars.  The Parisi administration, by defending their own mismanagement and poor leadership with the Edison Factory litigation and stiff tax assessments cause millions of dollars in tax appeals. Hard working folks have been caused to fight to be treated fairly when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes, rather than Parisi initially taking corrective action.”

One thing for sure, the following petitions which are a matter of public record tell a story. Did Parisi commit a fraud? You be the judge!

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