NJ ELEC Reports: The Cost Of Running For Office In Roselle Park

A review of contribution forms submitted by candidates in this year’s municipal elections provides insight into the costs and contributions for local campaigns.

A practice of providing copies of the required NJ-ELEC (New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission) reports to the newspaper, which last occurred in 2015 by Carl Hokanson, led to a review of all forms that list contributions made to a campaign in any amount over $300.

Information available at the NJ-ELEC website for Roselle Park shows that although Carl Hokanson provided copies to Roselle Park News, these reports were not filed online before their deadlines.

In response to a request for a comment, Mr. Hokanson remarked, “Due to my run for mayor as an Independent, I have had to handle all aspects of my campaign, and unfortunately this paperwork was submitted late and not yet published on the NJ ELEC website. Like I’ve said, I don’t have anything up my sleeves and whether good, bad or otherwise, I tell it like it is. However, in keeping with past practices, I have also submitted a copy of my reports to Roselle Park News.”

A review of prior years shows that other candidates do not have C-1 or R-1 forms filed on the NJ-ELEC website; most recently the reports of Joseph DeIorio and Jayme Lynn Negron in 2017 for their general election period.

This year’s public records show that, so far, candidate William Fahoury has raised – either by check, cash, in-kind contribution or loan – $12,054.69 in his campaign for mayor. Carl Hokanson has raised $13,020.87 in his bid to remain mayor of the borough. Both candidates have this information in their R-1 forms. These forms are used by candidates who raise more than $5,100.

At this time, there is no R-1 form from Joseph Signorello III, the third man running for the office of mayor. A review of his C-1 reports shows one contribution in the form of a loan from himself. This is not uncommon as many candidates loan to their campaigns. The second contribution of $1,000 is from Mike Lapolla of Loomis Consulting, who was instrumental in the first Meridia development in Roselle Park – Meridia On Westfield – on the old Domani’s restaurant site currently being constructed. Capodagli Property Company (CPC) is the parent company for Meridia On Westfield and the developer is currently in negotiations with the municipality to finalize a redeveloper’s agreement for a proposed project – tentatively called Meridia At Park Square – on what is locally known as the Sullivan property at the intersection of Chestnut Street and Westfield Avenue. The third contribution listed is for $500 and was cited as being from Vanessa Cangas. A search of property ownership records and other information shows that Vanessa Cangas is Vanessa Cangas Garcia, the wife of Sal Garcia who is the owner of the Sullivan property – the location where the second Meridia development in the borough is being proposed by CPC.

In reaching out to Mr. Signorello, he stated, “I don’t think the first Meridia development was a good deal and I don’t think the proposed second Meridia is a good deal either. I’ve told Mike Lapolla this, and I’ve stated it on record numerous times. It’s too many apartments. It’s not enough commercial space, and I don’t like the other buildings they’ve made around NJ. He knows my stances on those. I think Mike and I both can be grown-ups. Mike’s a life-long Union County Democrat. He likes me as a candidate and an individual. My family goes way back with the Lapolla’s, and he wanted to support the cause regardless of my rather negative stances on the Capodagli developments. I think it’s also worth noting that 3 out of 4 Republican council people voted for this “lobbyist” supported redevelopment plan that I’ve spoken out against.”

In addressing the donation from Vanessa Cangas Garcia, Mr. Signorello remarked, “His wife is close with my uncle, they live literally down the street from him.”

He added, addressing both contributions, “I’ve reported [both] under my campaign because there’s nothing to hide. If the implication is that Sal Garcia is trying to curry favor with me I don’t see why he would, his property is under contract from Capodagli and he can’t develop on that property anyway.”

In total, Mr. Signorello has reported $7,493.59 in contributions for his campaign to become mayor. $4,243.59 of that came from the Roselle Park Democratic Committee and is the exact same about that was reported individually by the other two Democratic candidates running for office this year. Reports for Joseph Petrosky – the candidate for 2nd ward council – and Robert Mathieu – 5th ward council candidate – show that each received $4,243.59 in ‘in-kind’ contributions for campaign mailers, fliers, postage, and signs.

Republican 2nd ward candidate Richard Graves has received $1,500 according to his C-1 and 5th ward candidate Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley had $1,000 contributed to his campaign. $1,000 for each candidate came from the Roselle Park Republican Municipal Committee.

Mr. Signorello said regarding further contribution reports, “The next deadline we will submit any required supplemental forms. To date, we’ve kept our reports in-line with expectations from ELEC rules and requirements as they’ve asked. If ELEC has any issues with past or future reports, I’m happy to provide transparency as needed.”

Upon review of all forms, Carl Hokanson, on his 29-day pre-election R-1 report, listed five (5) contributions that were given to him during a fundraiser which he later returned, according to him, once he found out who they were from.

In total $1,000 was returned. One check for $300 was from Michael Ryan, from Timpat, who is the owner of what is known as the Ryan property. A $200 check was from VVR Developers, the corporation who was approved by the Municipal Land Use Board (MLUB) in June of this year for a development across the street from borough hall. VVR Developers had also gone before the MLUB for a proposed storage facility on West Westfield Avenue but was denied in September. The last three checks – one for $250 and two for $125 each – were from Capodagli Property Company and two of its employees. Craig Ryno, head of Approvals & Acquisitions for CPC donated $125. Robert Symanski Jr. also donated $125. A Robert Symanski is listed as Director at CPC and Mr. Hokanson returned those $125 checks believing both gentlemen to be employees of Capodagli.

Legally, Mr. Hokanson was not required to list these donations since they were not in excess of $300 and could have kept them. He explained, “Ethically, I thought that it was not the right thing to do.”

William Fahoury has no donations from any developer or people associated with them listed on his forms.

Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.

Copies of all reports referenced in this article are available below in alphabetical order by last name:

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for William Fahoury

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Richard Graves

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Carl Hokanson

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Robert Mathieu

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Joseph Petrosky

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Thomas ‘Thos’ Shipley

Download 2018 NJ ELEC Contribution Reports for Joseph Signorello III