Michael Luther has been the mayor of Parsippany for two years, but his hold on the office may be in jeopardy.
After two recounts and a long legal battle, the State Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision that the Republican candidate in the 2005 race against Luther, former Councilwoman and five-time mayoral candidate Rosemarie Agostini, has the right to challenge her 39 vote loss in court.
A previous judge had ruled that Agostini did not produce enough specific complaints to support her charges that qualified voters’ ballots had been thrown out while other illegal votes had been counted. Agostini had also charged that some polling places turned out more votes than had been authorized, and that there were irregularities with absentee ballots.
Agostini then appealed that decision to the Appellate Division, which reversed it. The Supreme Court today upheld that decision.
“In this case, the passage of time alone might make it impossible for Agostini to prove the allegations she has made,” wrote Justice Helen Hoens, who acknowledged that, if Agostini’s challenge succeeds, a change in office could be disruptive to Parsippany. “Nevertheless, because there is sufficient information in this petition, consistent with the statute, to entitle Agostini to proceed, we direct that she be permitted to do so expeditiously.”
Parsippany has the only full-time mayoral seat in Morris County. The position pays $107,000 annually.
Hoeons was joined by Justices Stuart Rabner and Virginia Long. Justices Roberto Rivera-Soto and John E. Wallace wrote partially dissenting opinions.