October 20, 2021

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In an unusual event, daughter of Morristown mayoral challenger allowed in town hall hours after it closed to drop off petitions

Hope Field, the daughter of Morristown mayoral candidate Esperanza Porras-Field, dropping off additional parts of a nominating petition at 9 PM on April 5, 2021.

Police lieutenant walked candidate’s daughter into building

By David WildsteinApril 11 2021 4:31 pm

With the help of a police lieutenant, the daughter of Morristown mayoral candidate Esperanza Porras-Field gained access to a closed town hall at 9:10 PM on April 5 – more than five hours after the deadline to file nominating petitions for the June Democratic primary.

Hope Field and an unidentified man were waiting in a closed vestibule area when Lt.  Michael Molnar opened the door and walked them to the municipal clerk’s office, according to police body camera footage obtained by the New Jersey Globe through an Open Public Records Act request.

Molnar told Field that his body camera was on.

“My mother, Esperanza Porras-Field, dropped off her petition earlier today and she had two originals.  She left one here. They sent an email. She left her phone number. Nobody called her,” Field told Molar. “So, they sent her an email, but she was driving so she didn’t see it until she got home, but they said there was a signature missing from one of the pages.”

Molnar sought to clarify what Field was doing.

So, they had already gotten all the paperwork, but it’s just missing one clerical error?” he asked.

“Yeah, on one of the pages,” Field replied.  “This is just the other original one that I’m just dropping off with all the signatures.

“With the signatures?  That’s done. That’s all double-checked?” the police lieutenant said.

Porras-Field is challenging incumbent Tim Dougherty in the Democratic primary.  She said he field 76 signatures and need 43 to get on the ballot.

According to Porras-Field, she was notified that she hadn’t signed the original petition.

“How can that be?” she asked.  “The notary signed it.  How was the signature not there? The notary notarized my signature.  I am a realtor, so I understand contracts.”

Porras-Field said her daughter brough the petitions in “because I was sick.”

“I went down there, but I was dying,” the mayoral candidate said.  “I had the vaccine.”

She said she arrived around two or there minutes after the office closed, but no one was there.

Later that evening, her daughter went to town hall to drop off the petition addendum, which was in a large brown envelope.

Porras-Field said she didn’t notify anyone in advance that her daughter was coming and that police responded because “they rang the bell.”

Molnar gave Field the choice of leaving the envelope at the window in the clerk’s office, or to have the shift supervisor hand it to the municipal clerk the following morning.

“ Either way, it’s on camera,” he said.  She decided to leave it at the window.

Later, Molnar filed an incident report.

“On this date at approximately 2010 (hours), I assisted Hope Field with dropping off paperwork at the clerk’s office for the Town of Morristown,” the police lieutenant wrote in his report.  “I accessed the sub lobby where Ms. Field placed the paperwork in the Clerks window. I then secured the sub lobby and escorted her out. No further action taken.”