August 28, 2010


Petitions challenged in race for Congress

Staff Reporter

Three people have filed objections to the petitions submitted by two candidates running for a seat in the 24th Congressional District, which includes Cortland County.
On Aug. 20, objections were filed against the petitions submitted by Logan Bell, a Libertarian candidate who lives in Tompkins County, said John Conklin, spokesperson for the New York State Board of Elections.
Objections were also filed against incumbent Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-Utica) on his third party candidate line, the New York Moderates Party, on the same day and by the three same people, Conklin said. The New York Moderates Party is a party created by the Arcuri campaign and supporters, said Jeb Fain, press secretary for Arcuri’s campaign.
Bell, Arcuri and Republican Richard Hanna are running for the House of Representative seat in the 24th District. Elections will be held Nov. 2.
Conklin said objections usually question the validity of signatures on petitions candidates submit to get on the ballot.
Conklin said the state board of elections assumes all signatures are valid. The state board does a superficial review of the signatures, but not a thorough search, Conklin said.
Any signature deemed invalid must be dismissed, Conklin said. If a candidate has below the required number of signatures needed to legally run, they must stop campaigning and they can not be placed on the ballot, Conklin said. Candidates can still be voted in through the write-in process.
Conklin said the objections were made by Betty Anne Schwerd, Constance White and Joseph Cirillo.
White is the 3rd vice chair of the Cortland County Republican Committee, and contributed $500 to Hanna’s campaign. Schwerd works in the office of Sen. James Seward, a Republican.
The objections are especially frustrating news for Bell’s camp, said Mark Axinn, chair of the New York Libertarian Party.
Axinn believes the objections were filed by members of the Republican Party. Axinn does not have any evidence for his claim, but said he has always known Republicans to file objections against third party candidates, because Republicans fear losing votes to third parties.
“They don’t want us to take a piece of their action,” Axinn said.
Arcuri and Bell both had to submit 3,500 signatures to run as independent candidates to the state board of elections by the Aug. 17 deadline, said Conklin.
Arcuri submitted 7,301 signatures for his campaign, said officials from his campaign. It could not be determined how many Bell filed.
Arcuri is also on the Democratic Party line, which is considered a major political party by the State of New York, and had to submit 1,250 signatures to the state board of election by July 15, Conklin said. Arcuri did not have any objections filed against his petition for the Democratic Party, Conklin said.
Hanna, who has been lauded in national media reports as the district favorite, will be on three party lines, all recognized as major political parties in the state — the Republican Party, Independence Party and Conservative Party. Conklin said an objection was filed against Hanna’s petition for the Independence Party by Michael Sadallah, on July 16, but after a review of the claims — one claim was the petitions were not properly designated with the Independence Party — the state board of elections determined Hanna had not been in error.
Sadallah is the owner of Daylight Donuts in New Hartford and contributed $500 to Arcuri in this race, and $250 to Arcuri in his race in 2006.
The state board commissioners, consisting of two Democrats and two Republicans, will make a final ruling on the petitions.

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