Another legal opinion appeared Wednesday regarding whether Dr. Louis Valori is eligible to vie for the Republican Municipal Committee's nomination for the unexpired Township Council seat up for grabs in the November election.
After reading the opinion, Valori said he is proceeding with his hope to represent this party in the special balloting to fill the seat once held by .
On Tuesday, Parsippany Township Attorney John Inglesino sent a memo to Parsippany GOP Chair Nicole C. Green saying that as to Valori's eligibility to run.
Valori—who retired from the in June and is on terminal leave and therefore considered a township employee until Oct. 1—is ineligible to serve in elected office, according to state statute.
However, Inglesino said standing as a candidate and actually serving, under law, are two distinguishable things.
He said Valori could file to run, using the rationale that by the time of the Nov. 6 election, his terminal leave will be over and he will be free to serve. The issue, he noted, is that in order to file, the prospective candidate would have to sign a statement attesting that he "is qualified to serve under the laws of this state."
According to Inglesino, the law does not define that statement, creating a murky legal situation that might be challenged in a courtroom.
At Valori's request, District 25 Asm. Anthony Bucco, who serves as the attorney for the Morris County Republican Committee, reviewed Inglesino's opinion.
In a memo Bucco sent to Green, he wrote:
I ... concur that a strict reading of the statute appears to be problematic. I also concur with his analysis of the case law interpreting these issues which clearly support the proposition that an individual’s eligibility to be a candidate is distinguishable from an individual’s eligibility to hold office.
Our courts have routinely held that the election laws of the state are to be construed liberally so as to effectuate their intent and not to disenfranchise the voters. As a result, I think it is more likely than not that a court would hold Lou eligible to run for office under the present set of circumstances you are dealing with. Unfortunately, there is never a guarantee once you enter through the courthouse doors.
Bucco added that ultimately, the authority over a municipal election rests not with him, but with the municipality—its clerk and its township attorney.
Valori said the opinion made him confident enough to proceed with his bid for the council seat.
"I know people are calling me '' right now, but when I was in the police academy, they called me 'Lunchbox Louie,' and it's stuck with me all these years," he laughed. "I'm fine with it.
"I just want to move forward in a positive manner," he said. "I'm very grateful that Asm. Bucco would take the time to offer his expertise and his professional opinion."
Valori said he wants to put differences aside and hopes that committee members who supported him in the past will do so again.
Before the former Board of Education member's eligibility came into question and temporarily, Valori was the GOP committee's top pick to fill the vacancy.
Valori found out from Inglesino that he was not eligible only two hours before the Township Council was set to choose the temporary replacement on June 26.
"I'm just looking forward to represent the party and hoping that we'll all work together as a team to be victorious in the general election for the Republican Party," he told Patch. "For everyone, this has been a learning process and hopefully we'll get better at what we do as a party.
"There are so many things we can do for this town."