CAPE MAY - Cape May's November ballot includes dueling referendums concerning the best way to provide new facilities for public safety departments.
After two years of debate over the best approach, separate citizen initiatives succeeded in placing two opposing referendums on the ballot.
The setup of the ballot is in court, but it's not the referendums that put it there. Instead, the order of Cape May City Council candidates resulted in three candidates seeking a judicial order to change the ballot, as it was designed by County Clerk Rita Fulginiti and accepted by Cape May City Clerk Erin Burke.
At issue are the results of a random drawing conducted by Burke and streamed to the city’s Facebook page. The results listed the order of the three candidates for the only council seat available in this year’s election. The other spot open is the mayor’s seat, which is a separate election process.
The drawing placed Mark DiSanto in the first position, incumbent Patricia Hendricks in the second position, and Chris Bezaire in the third position. The contention is that the ballot, designed by the County Clerk’s Office, altered the position of candidates in a way that gives an advantage to Hendricks by placing her name directly below that of Clarence Lear, who is running for reelection as mayor.
There is a 35-page filing by candidates DiSanto, Bezaire, and Zack Mullock, who is running against Lear for mayor. It asks the court to force the county to adhere to the order of candidates that resulted from the drawing. It contains one allegation that Burke accepted the altered order of candidates after being told to do so by Lear and Hendricks.
The case will be heard by Judge James P. Savio.