Second Ward Primary Challenge Dismissed
Incumbent Raline Smith-Reid will run for another council term in November.
It appears the Second Ward Town Council slate of candidates has finally been decided, once and for all.
On Friday, State Superior Court Judge Thomas Weisenbeck, sitting in Morristown, granted the motion to dismiss a challenge from challenger Toshiba Foster, who had lost her Democratic primary bid on June 7 to incumbent Raline Smith-Reid.
Smith-Reid had 18 more votes than Foster after the primary election. Foster then filed a recount request, which ended up generating an additional three votes for the incumbent. On Monday, Foster's attorneys voluntarily withdrew 18 votes from a total of 55 challenged, meaning they only had a window of 15 votes for the primary decision to be overturned.
Paul Bangiola, the lawyer representing Smith-Reid, sought to have an additional 20 votes dismissed on Friday. Eighteen of those were granted, leaving Foster with only 19 votes, which would not be enough to change the outcome of the election.
Sharon Weiner, the attorney representing Foster, noted those 19 votes proved an acknowlegement that there were still votes that could have been challenged.
"While Ms. Foster is disappointed in the judge's decision, she is glad the irregularities that occurred in the voting in the second ward were revealed," Weiner said Friday. She said Foster planned on notifying the Superintendent of Elections of the remaining 19 votes, asking them to further investigate the allegations made in Foster's petition that people that did not live in Morristown had voted in the Second Ward elections.
But, as far as any further challenges to the primary election outcome, "that's done," Weiner said. "There's no appeal. That's done. We would have had to have had 22 votes to continue to trial and we did not. But, 19 is a significant number of irregularities in a local election."
Bangiola said they were pleased with the decision by the judge, however, "there is no basis for concluding there were 19 legitimate challenges.
"We would have vigorously challenged each of those," he said. "If we had gotten to that point, our cross-challenge might have even added additional voters to Raline Smith-Reid's total."
Bangiola said the decision made Friday morning was of the court concluding that there was nothing that warranted moving forward with the trial. "On that basis, the judge didn't need to go to the next step," he said.
Updated with comments by Attorney Paul Bangiola.