Gloversville mayor’s race shows signs of confusion

Supporter of King complains about Handy’s placards

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
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Gloversville mayoral candidate Jim Handy holds an original campaign sign and a recently modified copy.
Gloversville mayoral candidate Jim Handy holds an original campaign sign and a recently modified copy.

— Gloversville mayoral candidate James Handy drove the city streets Wednesday, pulling his campaign signs from yards and intersections.

It’s not permanent, not a symbolic act of surrender. Just a correction.

In the past few days, drivers passing through the city may have thought it was locked in a campaign between two incumbent mayors.

Current Mayor Dayton King’s roughly 150 signs are simple.

“They just say, ‘Re-elect Mayor Dayton King,’ ” King said Wednesday.

The problem arose when Handy distributed 50 of his own signs reading “Mayor of Gloversville James Handy, Working For You.”

“When I saw the sign I thought, ‘All this time he’s been mayor,’ ” King said with a laugh. “But that’s OK, he’s working for you.”

But one of King’s supporters, Scott Horton, wrote a letter of complaint to the state Board of Elections.

“There may be some voters who feel as though the current mayor is doing a good job, but may not be aware of the mayor’s name,” the letter said. “To those less-informed voters, if they believe Mr. Handy is the current mayor, when they go to the polls they may choose the wrong candidate.”

The letter requested the board make Handy pull his signs, a sentiment echoed by King.

“People might think, ‘Hey, taxes haven’t gone up for a couple years, I’ll vote for this guy again,’ ” he said. “They’d vote for Handy.”

Handy denied any intent to mislead voters.

“There’s only so much space on those signs,” he said. “It’s sad people are nitpicking.”

King, Handy and Michael Ponticello, who has placed no signs, are bound for a Republican primary election Sept. 10. With the date getting closer, Handy said complaints from King’s camp come with suspicious timing.

“Those signs have been up for months,” he said, “and they complain now, at the 11th hour.”

To quell the situation, Handy went back to Beebie Printing in Gloversville, where he got the signs and commissioned a bunch of “Elect For” stickers to be placed right above “Mayor of Gloversville.”

“We’re pulling the signs just so my wife and I can apply the stickers in our air-conditioning,” he said.

Handy said his solution should quiet any complaints, but he could be wrong.

In his letter to the state Board of Elections, Horton specifically asked that stickers not be allowed as a solution because they could fall off.

“They have adhesive backing,” Handy said. “They’re not going to fall off.”

State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin could not comment specifically on the case, but said misleading signs could fall under the Fair Campaign Code.

“They would have to be purposefully misleading,” he said. “If a person tries to fix the signs, that seems like proof it was not purposeful.”

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