Doyle was appointed on Oct. 3 to fill a vacancy left when Carol Marsh, an ally of the mayor, resigned. With Marsh gone, the council was split into four council people who were allies of Mayor Dawn Zimmer, and four who are opposed. Zimmer's allies appointed Doyle.
Then, the other four members of the City Council filed a lawsuit in Superior Court of New Jersey in October aimed at overturning the appointment.
The four council members who filed are Theresa Castellano, Beth Mason, Tim Occhipinti and Michael Russo. Defendants in the case were the remaining members of council: Ravinder Bhalla, Jennifer Giattino, David Mello, and Council President Peter Cunningham. Zimmer is also a defendant.
The law over municipal vacancy appointment stipulates that the governing body may fill the vacancy by “majority” vote. If all eight remaining members of the council had attended the Oct 3 meeting, this likely would have led to a 4 to 4 tie. In the event of a tie, the law empowers the mayor to cast a fifth, tie-breaking vote. The final vote on Oct 3 was 4 in favor, 2 opposed, 1 abstention and 1 absence, making what comprised a “majority” questionable. Mason was absent from the meeting.
Both sides disagreed on what the next step would be - whether Doyle can simply be appointed again, or whether the council must wait a certain period of time. Look for future coverage in the Reporter next week or on hudsonreporter.com when it breaks.