Akhtaruzzaman Stunner: I Filed Corrected Voter Registration; Former Councilman Appeals Court Ruling That Ousted Him
Monday, September 24, 2012 • 11:34pm
PATERSON, NJ – As the list of potential candidates for the vacant 2nd Ward City Council seat grew longer on Monday, Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman filed an appeal seeking to negate the need for a special election.
In a case fraught with inconsistencies and supposed misunderstandings, the ousted councilman’s appeal is based on alleged evidence that was not brought to light during the six-day trial this summer - the stunning assertion that Akhtaruzzaman revised his voter registration form in August 2011.
“The Court’s decision in this matter, due to no error of the Court, was based upon an incomplete factual record,’’ said the appeal, filed by Akhtaruzzaman’s third attorney in the case, Theodore Kyles.
Superior Court Thomas Brogan two weeks ago had nullified Akhtaruzzaman’s May election victory on the grounds that his voter registration was invalid because he listed the wrong Carlisle Avenue address – one where he planned to move but not where he lived at the time - when he filled out the form in March 2011.
In his ruling, Brogan said Akhtaruzzaman could have “shown a good faith attempt to validate an otherwise invalid voter registration card” by submitting a corrected form after he moved to the second address, 122 Carlisle Avenue.
Akhtaruzzaman’s appeal asserts he did exactly that. The appeal does not say why Akhtaruzzaman’s lawyers did not present that evidence during the trial.
The appeal asks Brogan to reconsider his ruling, to grant Akhtaruzzaman a new trial and to allow him to resume serving as the city’s 2nd Ward council member until the appeal is decided.
Neither Aslon Goow, whose lawsuit triggered Akhtaruzzaman’s ouster, nor his attorney, Michael DeMarco, could be reached for comment Monday regarding the appeal. Goow had been a 12-year incumbent when he lost the May election to Akhtaruzzaman by almost 500 votes.
Meanwhile, the number of potential candidates in the possible November 6 special election for the 2nd Ward seat increased from three to seven on Monday. Sonia Torres, Zalal Uddin, Taj Uddin and Maidul Islam all picked up nominating petitions from the city clerk’s office on Monday. Akhtaruzzaman, Goow and Joseph Atallo had picked up petitions on Friday, the day after the date of the special election was announced.
Candidates must file a minimum of 120 nominating petitions by 6 pm Friday to be eligible to run in the race.
Kyles’ appeal asks Brogan to render a decision as soon as possible because of the “urgency” of the case. The appeal says Akhtaruzzaman received a letter from Robert DeMers, the Superintendent of the Passaic County Board of Elections, in August 2011 asking him “to fill out a form located at the bottom of the letter. It further requested him to set forth therein his correct home address.”
What the appeal does not say is why DeMers sent the August 2011 letter to Akhtaruzzaman regarding his voter registration.
The appeal says Akhtaruzzaman “has been removed from office based upon a finding that he did not do something that he did in fact do – namely, correct the record as to his address.’’
The appeal goes on to say, “The citizens of the Second Ward have been denied the right to be represented by the candidate of their choice as a result of the unproven claims of a candidate who lost the election. The operation of the City Council has been adversely affected in the creation of a vacancy in a time of crisis for the City. The City is now compelled to schedule and conduct a special election to fill the seat. If a candidate other than Defendant prevails in it, and the Appellate Division reverses the Court’s decision in this matter, there is likely to be still another law suit with further proceedings and possible uncertainty or chaos.’’