Schenectady County

Rotterdam political parties face off in ‘tax’-ing lawsuit

Claiming a form of intellectual property theft, as well as paperwork errors, one splinter party will

Claiming a form of intellectual property theft, as well as paperwork errors, one splinter party will go after another in court today over the use of the word “taxes”

Members of the No New Tax Party are claiming their political adversaries established a similar-sounding independent line on November’s ballot for the sole purpose of confusing voters.

The party cross-endorsed by Republicans has filed a lawsuit alleging that Rotterdam Democrats created the so-called Lower Taxes Now! line in order to snag unwitting voters who planned to pull the lever for No New Tax Party candidates.

The lawsuit is expected to be heard today by state Supreme Court Judge Barry Kramer. The No New Tax Party is asking the court to throw out petitions establishing a Lower Taxes Now! candidate slate for town offices.

Democrats circulated separate petitions to establish the Lower Taxes Now! line for the county races and a special election for town clerk. Schenectady County Democratic Chairman Brian Quail said the lawsuit addresses only the petition filed for town candidates.

The No New Tax Party also claims that the signatures Democrats collected to establish the independent line for town races are largely invalid. The county Board of Elections invalidated 114 signatures, but that left more than enough to validate the Lower Taxes Now! line. The No New Tax Party says the Board of Elections should have knocked off more signatures.

Joe Villano, a Republican endorsed by the No New Tax Party, claims Democrats utilized “mercenaries” brought up from the New York City region to collect signatures. He said these people weren’t aware of the election district areas and collected a number of invalid signatures. “They wouldn’t know the district boundaries, let alone what issues are important to town residents,” he said.

Brian McGarry, the No New Tax Party candidate for supervisor, blasted Democrats for creating a line that suggests they aim to lower taxes. He said the exact opposite is true when it comes to the party’s performance in office.

“They offer the oppressed taxpayers a hand up while keeping a foot on their chests or a hand out while having a hand in their wallets,” he said.

Calls placed to Tony Jasenski, chairman of the Rotterdam Democrats and incumbent county legislator appearing on the Lower Taxes Now! slate, were not returned Tuesday.

Quail scoffed at the allegations, however.

“To think that one group or another owns the word ‘tax’ is ridiculous,” he said. “I think the voters are a good deal smarter than the proponents of this lawsuit would have us think.”

Quail said the No New Tax Party candidates are also being hypocritical by claiming Democrats relied on help from out-of-town people when collecting signatures. He said the No New Tax Party did the same thing.

“That does not in any way invalidate what the people who signed the petitions were trying to convey,” he said. “What matters is who signs them, not who circulates them.”

The No New Tax Party was first established before the 2009 election and was initially considered a splinter group fragmented from quarreling Rotterdam Republicans. Some Republicans blamed the independent line for playing spoiler in town races, where Republican candidates were swept by candidates endorsed by the Democrats.

During the spring, the Republicans forged an accord with the group that founded the No New Tax Party and endorsed McGarry to lead their ticket. He also led the No New Tax Party ticket during the 2009 election.

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