JERSEY CITY -- A state appellate court on Tuesday upheld a Hudson County Superior Court judge's decision that City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez can keep her council seat.
Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli ruled in Decenber 2009 that Lopez, who represents the city's Journal Square area, could stay in her council seat, thus striking down a lawsuit filed in June of that year by Jimmy King.
King, who finished second to Lopez in last year's Ward C municipal election, brought the suit challenging Lopez's residency status by claiming that Lopez was actually a Florida resident since she had not paid New Jersey income taxes for several years while filing federal taxes in Florida. But when King stepped down from the lawsuit after he pleaded guilty to taking bribes from government informant Solomon Dwek, Norrice Raymaker, the third-place finisher in the Ward C election, stepped up as a new legal challenger to Lopez.
The appellate court decision, published on the court's website Tuesday morning, stated that "the findings and conclusions of [Judge Gallipoli] are supported by substantial, credible evidence in the record."
Lopez said after the decision that she was "happy" to hear the appellate court's decision from her lawyer and said the lawsuit was an "unfair distraction to her constituents." Raymaker issued a statement prior to the ruling thanking her supporters but also noted, "Of course, I hope we prevail. However, win or lose, we defended our right for authentic representation" and encouraged them to participate in local politics. - Ricardo Kaulessar