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Court: NJ Housing Official Can Seek Assembly Seat

A state appellate court has ruled that the executive director of the Hoboken Housing Authority can seek the Democratic nomination for a state Assembly seat.

Carmelo Garcia (Hoboken Housing Authority)

The decision made public Tuesday overturns a lower court ruling that found Carmelo Garcia couldn’t run because he leads an agency that receives federal funds.

Garcia told The Jersey Journal he was “gratified” by the ruling. He has argued that the state regulation cited by the state judge who found him ineligible was preempted by the federal Hatch Act, which would allow him to run.

“The decision supports what we had argued … there is no legislative prohibition in New Jersey (preventing) Mr. Garica from running,” Garcia’s attorney, Raj Parikh, told the newspaper.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by five Hoboken residents. They claim Garcia cannot seek the Democratic nomination for a 33rd Legislative District because the housing authority he leads receives $10 million a year from the federal government.

Garcia, who has held his post since 2009, countered by arguing that the state regulation was preempted by the federal Hatch Act, which would allow him to run. He claimed the federal law was “modernized” last year to be more permissive, while the state law was “antiquated.”

It was not clear Tuesday if the Hoboken residents would appeal the latest ruling.

 

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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