Schenectady County

Battle over Rotterdam party names rendered moot by law

There’s a reason the Lower Taxes Now! line won’t appear on the ballot in Rotterdam, but it has nothi

There’s a reason the Lower Taxes Now! line won’t appear on the ballot in Rotterdam, but it has nothing to do with the recently resolved court challenge to the independent party.

State election law prevents any candidate with two or more established party endorsements from securing a third independent party line. That means none of the Democratic candidates running for office in Rotterdam ever had a chance to list themselves on a separate Lower Taxes Now! line — because all of them are also endorsed by the Conservative Party.

Instead of receiving a separate line, the Democrats will be allowed to place a small symbol representing the independent line next to their names on the ballot. County Board of Elections Commissioner Brian Quail said the law is intended to prevent ballots from getting cluttered and overly complicated.

“They all have at least two places on the ballot anyway,” he said. “Some of them appear on the ballot four times already.”

Of course, only three of the Democrats that petitioned for the Lower Taxes Now! designation will be able to use its symbol. All of the Democrats running for town offices agreed to change the name of the Lower Taxes Now! party to Re-unite Rotterdam in order to settle a lawsuit filed by the No New Tax Party, an independent line supporting all of the Republican endorsed candidates.

Among other things, the lawsuit claimed the Democrats were attempting to confuse voters by creating an independent line sounding similar to the No New Tax Party. The case was scheduled for arguments before state Supreme Court Judge Barry Kramer on Wednesday, but both sides reached a settlement.

“My big thing was the theft of an idea, the stealing of a brand,” said Brian McGarry, the Republican candidate for town supervisor, who also spearheaded the No New Tax Party petition. “They are piggybacking on our concept.”

The agreement doesn’t affect the Lower Taxes Now! candidates running for Schenectady County Legislature or the special election for town clerk in Rotterdam. Incumbent legislators Tony Jasenski and Angelo Santabarbara and town clerk candidate Diane Marco will use the symbol designating the Lower Taxes Now! party because they weren’t included in the initial lawsuit.

The No New Tax Party candidates will have a whole line on the ballot, because their only other endorsement is from the Republican Party. They’ll be joined on the ballot by the Rotterdam First line, an unaffiliated independent slate of town office candidates organized by incumbent Supervisor Frank Del Gallo.

If all this sounds confusing, that’s only because it is. The proliferation of independent lines in Rotterdam has kept the Board of Elections commissioners busy reviewing complex laws and the various permutations within them.

For instance, Republican-endorsed town justice candidate Jim Bradshaw also circulated petitions for the Rotterdam First and No New Tax Party lines. That means he’ll need to choose one independent party to appear as a line and another to appear as a symbol.

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