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On the heels of some hard-nosed residency questions and a spat between two senators, the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon affirmed Louis J. Stellato, Jr. to be a member of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA).
“I want to thank the governor for putting my name in nomination,” Stellato told the committee.
He also thanked the senators who backed him.
They all did, except for one.
“I spent 25 years in elected office in the Meadowlands area… so I bring an institutional knowledge to the board,” added Stellato, the long-serving chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Committee and former mayor of Lyndhurst.
It wasn’t a completely smooth hearing.
The stumbling block to Stellato’s nomination had originally been residency questions nursed by state Senator Gerry Cardinale (R-39).
Even after a meeting with Stellato at the Bergen GOP senator’s office, Cardinale said he wanted answers to those questions on the record. Stellato said he has lived in Lyndhurst since 1974 and lived in Woodland Park for nine months after bypass surgery. He went to the condo for rehab.
“You had indicated to me you had purchased anticipating your elderly mother would be going there,” Cardinale said.
“You bought it for investment purchases,” Cardinale added.
State Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) described Stellato as a gentleman who helped her.
“I know you’re going to do a great job,” Pou said.
She questioned why Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Nick Scutari (D-22) allowed Cardinale to probe Stellato’s residency.
Scutari didn’t disagree with Pou, and expressed impatience over the line of questioning.
“The questions related to Woodland Park ave nothing to do with his qualifications. I am raising questions related to another matter. We have many people voting in Bergen County where they do not
live,” Cardinale said.
Pou again protested.
“Mr. Chairman, are you going to continue to allow this filibuster?” Cardinale asked Scutari.
The chairman told the GOP senator to continue.
Cardinale proceeded to dive into the details about Stellato’s residency at the condo in question, and insisted on Stellato providing documentation related to the months in which he lived in Woodland Park.
“We have a very lax attitude about people voting away from places where they do not live,” said the GOP senator. “The chairman of the Bergen County Democrats is part of an attitude that is far too common in Bergen County. We need to do something to stop people who actually vote in the wrong place and then brag about it on Facebook. Why did he buy that apartment? He actually lived there for nine full months. It’s an unliely coincidence that the tenant moved just at the point where he wanted to be rehabilitated.”
Stellato, said Cardinale, is not living in Lyndhurst with his son and daughter-in-law.
He voted no.
For his part, Stellato will be supplanted as Bergen County Democratic Committee chairman by Paul Juliano.