By JOHN T. WARD
Less than a week after it began, Jacqueline Sturdivant‘s controversial bid for Red Bank mayor ended Monday.
The first-term council member and Democrat dropped her bid after a challenge by the Monmouth County Democratic organization said it identified 29 ineligible signatories to her petition to run in the November election – as an independent.
“Of the 82 signatures obtained for my petition, 28 can be successfully challenged, leaving me 18 short,” she said in a statement sent to redbankgreen shortly after 5 p.m. “I have therefore withdrawn my petition to run as an independent candidate for
mayor of Red Bank.
Sturdivant’s withdrawal came just hours after the Monmouth County Democratic organization filed a challenge to the validity of Sturdivant’s candidacy petition, alleging 28 signatories had previously signed one for second-term Councilman Michael Ballard, who lost his bid in an upset by newcomer Billy Portman in last Tuesday’s party primary.
Under New Jersey law, voters cannot sign more than one candidate’s petition per race, a lawyer for the county organization said in the filing.
An additional signer of Sturdivant’s petition was found not to be a registered borough voter, the county organization contended.
In her statement, Sturdivant said she “will work as best I can with whomever is November’s winner to continue to deliver on my pledges to the people.”
She did not mention Portman by name, however, or offer to support his run.
She entered the race, she said, because Ballard’s “opponent’s campaign message stated he was a placeholder for five months and he supported changing the government.
“Councilman Ballard’s opponent had no experience, no vision, and no legislative initiatives,” she continued. “This celebration of change with no clear purpose or vision greatly concerned me. I believed that all residents who would be directly impacted deserved another choice.
I filed to run as an independent to at least try to preserve the chance of Red Bank remaining the small town I have always loved,” she said.
“Assuming I win in November, I look forward to working with Jaqueline Sturdivant on behalf of the residents of Red Bank,” Portman said in response.
Since the early days of his campaign, he has amended his message to say that he’s now looking to serve a full, four-year term if elected.
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