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Woodcliff Lake mayor, councilman concede election defeat

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Woodcliff Lake GOP Mayor Joseph LaPaglia and Councilman Jeff Hoffman conceded defeat this morning after finding irregularities in last month’s election that they vowed to monitor next time, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

“After careful consideration, Jeff Hoffman and I have decided to end our challenge of the 2011 election results in Woodcliff Lake,” LaPaglia wrote in an email this morning to the winners, the township administrator and others, a copy of which was obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“Although our research indicated a number of suspect Absentee Ballots and signature irregularities, we ultimately reached the conclusion that a protracted legal battle is not something we are willing to pursue,” Hoffman wrote.

“Throughout our tenure in municipal government, we have always put the best interests of Woodcliff Lake first, and that is what ultimately guided our decision,” he added.  “Given the significant matters that face the town, we felt it was best that we move forward in a timely and positive manner.

“We want to extend our congratulations to you all, and pledge to assist you during the transition period.”

LaPaglia and Hoffman, both incumbents, lost to Democrat challengers Jeff Goldsmith (for mayor) and council candidates Bob Rosenblatt and Donna Abene. GOP candidate Joe Langschultz came in fourth and didn’t challenge the results.

A Dec. 8 recount by the Bergen County Board of Elections, at their request, found all the votes the same. LaPaglia and Hoffman then had until Dec. 23 to challenge any particular ballots.

They would have had to compare signatures on a little over 100 hundred absentee ballots with those on file and come up with at least 17 to challenge the defeats in order to win ( SEE: Recount request in Woodcliff Lake ).

LaPaglia and Hoffman said they likely wouldn’t take the full amount of time to reach a decision, and they didn’t.

However, a check of records obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT turned up a few areas of concern:

In one instance, a former Democratic councilwoman who moved out of town in 2007 sent a mail-in ballot from a Long Island post office after having it delivered to an address in Center Moriches, N.Y., records show.

In another, a sample ballot was returned to the Bergen County Board of Elections with a new addresse listed in Westwood.

A third was sent to a Madison Avenue address in New York City. The ballot is postmarked in the city.

There were more, according to a source with direct knowledge of the ballot review.

Although Democrats won all three open seats in Woodcliff Lake last month, the council’s four Republicans still outnumber them.

Goldsmith, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, served briefly as a borough councilman from 1998 to 2000. LaPaglia has been mayor since 2004.

Rosenblatt, an attorney, was voted off the council last year after seven years.

Abene and Rosenblatt have opposed consolidating the borough’s police department with those of other towns.

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