McCann’s spot on school board challenged Fourth-place finisher wins right to have complaint heard

Former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann’s triumphant return to elected office is going to be challenged in court.

On Tuesday, State Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli ruled that a complaint by mother-of-four Jenny Garcia, the fourth place finisher in the April 17 Board of Education election, can go forward.

Garcia lost by 21 votes in the April 17 Board of Education election to McCann, the former mayor. McCann has spent time in prison due to business deals unrelated to the office of mayor.

Garcia’s complaint, filed on April 30, challenges the validity of 216 absentee ballots cast for McCann at four Jersey City nursing homes. In the complaint, Garcia, through her attorney, Christopher Welgos, alleges that McCann “coerced” elderly residents into filling out the absentee ballots that were “incompetent or otherwise elderly and ill” or assisted them in filling out the ballots.

The complaint also alleges that McCann physically handled the ballots during the process of getting them to the voters, which he should not have done.

An absentee ballot allows a voter to vote by mail.

The complaint calls for voiding the absentee ballots, a recount of the votes for Garcia and McCann, and the removal of McCann from the board, with Garcia talking over for him.

McCann’s attorney, Mark Curtis, sought on Tuesday to have the complaint dismissed and argued in court that it was an “unconstitutional” attack on the elderly. Curtis also claimed that Garcia’s attorney had not done any research that would justify the complaint.

But Gallipoli would have none of that.

Instead, he scheduled a hearing on May 22 in his courtroom to hear more on the complaint.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to think that Mr. McCann illegally helped fill out their ballots,” Gallipoli said.Arguing the case

Curtis gave arguments first during the hearing, where he pointed out that Garcia’s attorney was not challenging all absentee ballots cast, but rather the ones cast in the nursing home. He also pointed out that the elderly residents in these homes are for most part competent and aware, and used to candidates campaigning in their residences.

“The voters in these four nursing homes are constantly being interrupted and inconvenienced during these contests,” Curtis said.

But Gallipoli asked Curtis, “Do you really think that these people are going to through the trouble…to fill out absentee ballots for a school board election?”

Curtis also said that the NJ attorney general should have the present at the hearing because would buttress the argument that nursing home residents are competent. But Gallipoli dismissed the argument.

Curtis also argued that McCann did not solicit nor handle the actual ballots.

At one point in the argument, Curtis tried to get Gallipoli’s sympathy by saying he “appreciated” that Gallipoli was upset that the complaint was being heard in his courtroom, to which Gallipoli countered, “I’m not upset,” which elicited laughs.

Garcia’s attorney, Welgos, then gave his argument claiming that the “residents were incompetent.”

He said there should be a discovery process, which is a pre-trial phase in a court case in which each party can obtain information and facts and gather evidence. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at


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