“Yes, indeed Elaine Herzog is a resident,” Robert Bernathy, solicitor for the Borough of Hawley said during the council meeting on January 11.
“We are not obligated to fill a vacated seat to the candidate who received the next highest vote. We are following the law which falls under Section 901 of the Borough Code,” Bernathy said.
This followed a challenge set forth after Orlando Marrero was a losing candidate in the Hawley Borough Council race last November. After the election, allegations surfaced that one of the winners, Elaine Herzog, wasn’t a resident since she allegedly used a street address of a commercial property with no apartments and a post office box in Greentown, a hamlet at a distance from Hawley.
However, a letter written by Bernathy to Marrero’s attorney, Randolph Borden, on December 28, 2011, said that the address at 518 Church Street in Hawley is in fact a one-family dwelling and is used for both a residency and a business, Miss Elly’s Antiques and Such.
Bernathy wrote, “It would be my legal opinion that Councilwoman Herzog is in compliance with the residency requirements of the borough code, and as a result is eligible to sit as a member of the borough council for the Borough of Hawley for 2012.”
On January 17, Board of Elections Director Cindy Furman confirmed that Herzog’s address was legitimate.
At a meeting of the Wayne County Board of Elections on January 5, Borden told the commissioners that his client should have been appointed to Herzog’s council position because Marrero received more votes than the other candidate who lost. Borden spoke at the meeting as if Herzog had vacated the seat, but she had not. (In its January 12 edition, TRR erroneously reported that the claim of the invalid address had been substantiated.)
At the meeting, commissioner Wendell Kay, the chairman of the Wayne County Board of Elections, said any allegation of an invalid address was a matter not for the board of elections, but for the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas.
It is not clear if Marrero will pursue the matter in court.
Fire chief honored
In another development at the Hawley meeting, Fire Chief Eugene E. Krause, who has been Hawley’s fire chief since 1994 and part of the fire department since 1976, received his own holiday. January 11th was declared Eugene E. Krause day for his long-running tenure with the community and fire department.
Krause received plaques and gifts from Mayor Kevin Hawk, Downtown Hawley Partnership, Hawley Borough Council Members, and the Hawley Police Department for his service.
“I’m quite honored since I have known Gene for a long time since EMT days, and he has been wonderful for the fire department. He is a great guy,” Mayor Hawk said.
Krause said, “It’s very moving to have a day named after you.”