Bergen Dems want Donovan’s name off the ballot

The Bergen County Democratic Organization sent out a call today for Republican County Executive candidate Kathe Donovan to step down in her role as county clerk in relation to her upcoming election. 

One problem: She already has, her team said.

The Dems also want her name off the ballot in her official role as county clerk. A state appellate division granted a stay on the printing of ballots for the November elections in Bergen County, a BCDO release said. Donovan’s name appeared twice on the ballots – as a candidate, and as clerk.

BCDO Executive Director Christopher Lee called Donovan to the carpet, “to voluntarily remove her name from the ballots and officially recuse herself from running the election in her capacity as county clerk.”

Republicans fired back a dismissal of the county executive. 

“This latest McNerney gambit is as laughable as Osama Bin Laden applying for a job as a UN Peacekeeper. McNerney clearly can’t talk about his record of massive debt and spending which has produced record tax increases,” said Donovan spokeswoman Jeanne Baratta. “He can’t run from the BCIA and his crony the disgraced, indicted former chairman. He has been reduced to releasing polls that show Kathe Donovan’s strength. He’s a desperate man who reportedly has been unreachable and who’s probably hiding in a cave. Maybe there’s room for two applicants at the UN.”   

Officially, Superior Court Judge Robert Wilson ruled to allow Donovan to have her name on ballots as clerk and to run the election in her official capacity. But the BCDO appealed the decision and received a stay.

In a letter to BCDO counsel, Donovan’s attorney, Jack Carbone, wrote, “The voluntary actions of Bergen County Clerk Kathleen A. Donovan were to ensure the public confidence in the election process and the resulting outcome.” 

In that same letter he said, “She has and will continue to avoid an actual or perceived conflict of interest in her service to the citizens of Bergen County,” the statement said.

“If Kathe Donovan is really so concerned about ‘actual or perceived conflicts of interest’ then why is she continuing to fight this in court?” Lee said in the release. “Ms. Donovan should save taxpayers any further expense and voluntarily remove her name from the ballots and recuse herself from running the election in her capacity as County Clerk. Further, Ms. Donovan and her office have completely mishandled the last two elections in Bergen County and, given her decades long history of poor management, we can’t afford to take a chance that she will somehow right the ship in the next two months.”

But Carbone also states in the letter, as the Dems failed to note, that after conveying to BCDO attorney

Paul Kaufman that Donovan had already recused herself, Kaufman allegedly replied: “I am under pressure to do this,” assumedly meaning pressing the court issue. Carbone also gave PolitickerNJ a 2009 letter that laid out Donovan’s recusal.

The BCDO release also alleges: “In April, Englewood, Teaneck, Wyckoff and Mahwah were shipped incorrect sample ballots for the school budget votes. Although Bergen is the only county in the state in which the majority of taxpayers defied the governor’s order and voted ‘yes’ on town’s school budgets, the four towns that received incorrect sample ballots all voted with a ‘no’ majority on their school budgets. The mix-up was blamed on a printer error. County Executive Dennis McNerney and the Bergen County Freeholder Board asked for a state investigation into the matter, but never received a response.

“Then, in June, Donovan’s office sent out incorrectly printed mail-in primary ballots that caused a provisional ballot mix-up for the primary election in Bergenfield. McNerney sent another letter to the Division of Elections requesting an investigation into the primary problems. He has not received a response.”

Bergen Dems want Donovan’s name off the ballot