Election Commission Decides On City Council Candidate’s Residence
NEW BEDFORD- The Election Commission voted unanimously in a hearing Friday night to dismiss an objection of residency filed against candidate for City Council Mike Janson.
Gilly Safioleas, a registered voter in New Bedford, filed the objection of residency and says that the Council candidate doesn’t actually live at his 895 Rockdale Avenue address listed on his official nomination papers. Safioleas also claims that the residency lacks running water and is similar to a shed.
The state election office says that any registered voter has the right to challenge the residency of a candidate for public office.
Janson has been cited as the owner of the Rockdale Avenue property by the New Bedford Assessors Office, who listed it as an ‘out building’. The property is valued at $37,000 according to 2015 estimates.
The hearing began as Safioleas provided evidence to support the objection of residency filed against Janson. Safioleas says that Janson actually resides at the Caroline Street Apartments in the West end of the city. He also says that Janson’s neighbors have not exposed the candidate’s actual residence because of fear of retaliation.
“He lives in the Caroline Street homes, a housing complex paid by New Bedford Housing Authority. The neighbors know he lives there and they won’t come testify because they’re afraid of what he'll do to them,” said Safioleas.
Safioleas also claims that Janson uses the Rockdale Avenue address as a business to sell his artwork and barley spends any time there. He argues that the property “couldn’t possibly” be where he lives on a daily basis.
“The bottom line is that place is registered as a residence B which is the lowest amount of taxes you can pay,” explained Safioleas. “Now what happens is he gets charged rent but yet he’s got a business working out of there, he’s got a business. Shouldn’t he be charged taxes for business?”
Janson defended his residency by providing the Election Commission multiple legal documents to prove that the property is in fact his domicile, or permanent legal home. These included electric and cable bills, bank statements, healthcare records, and a summons for jury duty, all mailed to 895 Rockdale Avenue.
Janson then provided the Election Commission with pictures of his apartment taken on his cell phone. The pictures displayed three different rooms and a closet in the residence.
“I’ve been there 25 out of the last 28 years at that residence. I lived there,” said Janson. “The Election Commission states that ‘the person must be physically present and that the person must eat and sleep there’. It also says here that ‘the person must attempt to make the place home’. Well I think I’ve made this place my home.”
Chairperson of the Election Commission Manny DeBrito tells WBSM that the evidence provided by Janson was enough to prove that the Rockdale Avenue property is in fact his legal domicile.
“I feel like Mr. Janson provided us with ample evidence that this is his legal domicile,” DeBrito said. “For purposes of him running for office I feel that there wasn’t enough evidence to invalidate that.”
Former City Councilor Henry Bousquet and Attorney J. Louis Leblanc joined DeBrito in deliberating the case.