Results of the State Bar Association’s elections for officers and trustees, announced Tuesday, showed two positions without clear winners.
In the race for second vice president, Nancy Erika Smith garnered 49 percent of the vote, Thomas Prol 28 percent and Kenneth Vercammen 23 percent.
For an at-large trustee seat, Christine Amalfe got 36 percent, Christina Vassiliou Harvey 25 percent, Amy Sara Cores 22 percent and Marla Marinucci 17 percent.
When no candidate draws a majority, the association’s bylaws require a runoff between the two top vote-getters. That would mean Smith facing off against Prol and Amalfe against Harvey.
But a bylaw amendment passed by more than two-thirds of the voting members could moot the Smith-Prol runoff. It requires that State Bar officers practice primarily in New Jersey. Prol is associate general counsel for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
State Bar President Kevin McCann says the board of trustees will soon discuss whether Prol is ineligible to participate in the runoff by dint of the change.
The bylaws do not specify how to handle the situation of an amendment, passed contemporaneously with an election of officers, affecting a candidate’s very eligibility to take office. "We’re all breaking new ground," says Election Committee chairman Michael Selvaggi.
Prol says he will not drop out of the runoff but declines to speculate on his possible disqualification. "I think there needs to be a lot of review and evaluation of what that bylaw amendment means," he says, adding that he will oppose any challenge to his right to run.
Smith, an employment lawyer with Smith Mullin in Montclair, says she is elated about her lead but does not relish the runoff. "I think that people are ready to move on," she says.
Runoff ballots are to be sent to members no later than 30 days after the May 15-17 annual meeting and collected no later than 20 days after that, which means the runoff must be completed by July 6. In a tie, the trustees decide.
Contrary to the usual lockstep succession of bar officers up the ladder to the presidency, this year’s election saw open contests in three races.
Two of them resulted from the trustees’ decision not to name ballot replacements when two officers who had been picked by the Nominating Committee resigned to become state court judges: Angela White Dalton for second vice president and Mitzy Galis-Menendez for at-large trustee. The candidates in those races got on the ballot by collecting signatures on petitions.
The third contested race was for secretary. Bonnie Blume Goldsamt challenged John Keefe Jr., the Nominating Committee’s choice. But Keefe won with 64 percent of the vote to Goldsamt’s 36 percent, so no runoff is needed.
The actual vote counts were:
For Second Vice President :
Nancy Erika Smith — 1,847
Thomas Prol — 1,058
Kenneth Vercammen — 821
John Keefe Jr. — 2,335
Bonnie Blume Goldsamt — 1,319
For At-Large Trustee:
Christine Amalfe — 1,249
Christina Vassiliou — 846
Amy Sara Cores — 761
Marla Marinucci — 588
In addition to the bylaw provision requiring primary practice in New Jersey, which passed 2,332 to 1,062, the membership approved four others:
• An amendment requiring board of trustees members to maintain active email accounts and clarifying that the board may act on urgent matters by email under certain conditions (2,940 to 473).
• A clarification that no member may serve in more than one officer or trustee position at any one time, and that a sitting trustee elected to an officer position is deemed to have resigned from his or her trustee post at the end of any potential challenge period without opposition, effective upon the start of service as an officer (3,026 to 362).
• A clarification that the board of trustees has the authority to reorganize sections or divisions that have become inactive (2,985 to 406).
• Inclusion of the immediate past State Bar president on the Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee (2,626 to 752).
About 23 percent of the Bar’s 16,100 members voted.