Judge Delays Final Decision in Baskerville Case, as Reorg to Go Forward

Renee Baskerville and Sean Spiller of Montclair.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Vena this afternoon delayed making a final decision in the case of Montclair Councilwoman Renee Baskerville, who seeks relaxation of the 48-hour rule in the May 12th mayoral election because Essex County did not receive local ballots on time.

The judge did, however, rule against intervening to stop a coming reorganization of government in Montclair, while strongly hinting at the difficulty of her case. “We are limited… to complying with the law as it currently exists,” said Vena. “I do not find such injunction is necessary.”

The judge delayed his decision specifically to give Baskerville a chance to return with legal representation.

The case will be reconvened at the end of July, in keeping with a request by the councilwoman – with a targeted hearing date of Friday, Sept. 11.

A candidate for Mayor, Baskerville was unsuccessful on May 12th.

Ultimately, she lost by 195 votes.

“The percentage of votes denied or dismissed… were far about the two percent usually dismissed,” Baskerville said. “Clearly based on the debacle of this election on May 12th, our governor wrote another executive order, he extended the time period to have it counted to seven days.

“This is not just one individual saying sour grapes,” the councilwoman added. “Many people were dying, more focused on the effects of the coronavirus, communication was limited. Clearly, based on our governor’s decision two days after the election, what I’m trying to do is one in the same. These things should have been taken care of.”

She decribed Mayor-elect Sean Spiller as a colleague with whome she sat on the dais for eight years.

There was no animus here, she insisted.

She just wanted a fair count.

But Team Spiller saw it differently.

“We are preparing to take office on July 1,” said Guillermo Artiles, who represents Mayor-elect Spiller, decrying the attempt by Baskerville to seek an injunction at this time.

“We saw robust turnout, which would suggest there was no voter suppression,” the attorney added.

The all-VBM election allowed voters to participate in the process during a pandemic “In the safest possible way.”

“This is an attempt by plaintiffs to have a second bite at the apple here,” Artiles argued.

Baskerville fought back.

Marable
Marable

“We’re on the downslope of the pandemic,” said the councilwoman. “We were a test case. I get it. I must applause Clerk [Chris] Durkin to make everything it was, but it was was a trual, and you can’t expect to jave all the ballots there within 48 hours ready to be counted. Life-threatening circumstances prevented that from happening.”

In an earlier court hearing, Judge Vena granted a citywide recount for Orange, but denied At-Large Councilman Ed Marable’s specific request for a South Ward recount.

 

 

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