Vincent Barrella recall, Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey (2010)
In February 2011, Mayor Barrella announced that he would seek a second four-year term in the November 2011 city elections.
The November 2010 recall vote was scheduled by a New Jersey Superior Court judge after a protected battle over whether recall supporters had collected enough signatures to force the vote.
Petitions requesting a recall election were filed the week of July 18, 2009. Recall organizers announced that their motivation for seeking the recall was Barella's plan to raise city taxes.
A lengthy and complex series of events regarding the signatures filed by recall proponents, and whether there were enough signatures, soon dragged both recall supporters and opponents into court with the most recent action by a judge in January 2010 to order that a recall vote take place. Barella indicated that he would appeal the judge's decision, which means that future court actions could conceivably result in the cancellation of the currently scheduled recall vote.
Stewart Fischer was a leader in the recall effort.
Republican no more
Barella has filed to run for the position of mayor in the same election where he might be recalled, on November 2, as an independent candidate. The local Republican Party, on whose ticket Barella used to run, instead has placed the name of Stephen D. Reid on its ballot line for November. This led Barella to say, "Make no mistake, there is a deep philosophical divide between myself and those who control the Republican Club. I believe that as Republicans we should be looking out for all of the residents and taxpayers of Point Pleasant Beach, not simply the powerful few. Those in control of the Republican Club have a different vision, they have consistently demonstrated that they are willing to put the interests of the powerful few first. It is, therefore, not surprising that they have chosen to back someone whose way of thinking is more in line with their approach."
Path to the ballot
884 valid signatures are required to force a recall vote.
- July 18, 2009: 1,200 signatures on 66 pages were submitted to Point Pleasant Beach election officials.
- July 22, 2009: Barella lodges a challenge to the signatures, asserting that two petition circulators (Joseph Billoti and Frank Storino) did not have the right to vote in the borough because they are residents of other towns.
- August 6, 2009: City Clerk Maryann Ellsworth declared that the petition was invalid because one of the circulators failed to sign a document where required. Altogether, Ellsworth disqualified 400 of the 1,200 signatures, leaving recall sponsors short by 77 of the required number of signatures.
- August 20, 2009: Recall supporters file a lawsuit contesting Ellsworth's declaration, and arguing that 121 of the 400 disqualified signatures should be re-certified.
- September 8, 2009: A hearing is held in New Jersey Superior Court to determine whether any signatures should be re-certified. During the hearing, petition circulator Joseph Billoti testified that he is a resident of Point Pleasant Beach, citing his address as within the city limits.
- September 28, 2009: New Jersey Superior Court Judge Joseph Foster ruled that the recall vote could not be scheduled for the November 2009 ballot because he would not be issuing a decision before October 5 at the earliest and, if he ruled in favor of recall supporters, this would not allow sufficient time for replacement candidates to file their papers to appear on the recall ballot.
- October 2009: Hearings proceed in Judge Foster's court on the validity of various petition signatures.
- November 30, 2009: The court orders Barella to cease his accusations about the motivations of the recall supporters. The court order came after Barella questioned Councilman Frank Rizzo about political connections to the committee that is attempting to oust him from office. According to Judge Joseph Foster, who administered the rebuke: “What you are attempting to do here is get involved in the merits of this recall petition. What I am not going to allow here is for this to become a forum for consideration to whether this recall petition and the movement behind it was wrong."
- January 25, 2010: Judge Foster declares that Borough Clerk Ellsworth was wrong to invalidate some of the signatures she invalidated, and that when those improperly invalidated signatures are added back in to the count of valid signatures, then recall proponents did in fact collect sufficient signatures to force a recall. Foster orders that the election be scheduled for November 2, 2010. Barella says he will appeal.
- May 24, 2010: A two-judge appellate court agrees with Judge Foster's January decision that sufficient valid signatures were submitted to force a recall election.
- Associated Press, "Point Pleasant mayor seeks re-election, despite recall effort", February 14, 2011
- Newark Star-Ledger, "Recall of Point Pleasant Beach mayor may appear on general election ballot", January 25, 2010
- APP.com, "Republican mayor makes re-election bid as independent in Point Beach", June 10, 2010
- Mercatus Center at George Mason University, "Point Pleasant Beach to Mayor: “No New Taxes, or Police Furloughs", July 18, 2009
- APP.com, "Point Pleasant Mayor challenges petitioners", July 23, 2009
- Star Ledger, "Point Pleasant Beach cites error in rejecting petition to recall mayor", August 12, 2009
- app.com, "Point Beach recall effort moves to court
- app.com, "Point Pleasant Beach mayor doesn't testify in recall hearing", September 8, 2009
- New Jersey Real Time News, "Judge rules against adding Point Pleasant Beach mayoral recall on November ballot", September 28, 2009
- app.com, "Leader of effort to recall Point Pleasant Beach mayor testifies", October 5, 2009
- APP.com, "Judge rebukes mayor for questions about recall backers' motives", November 30, 2009
- NewJersey.Com, "Court allows Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Barrella recall effort to continue", May 24, 2010