GLOVERSVILLE — The Fulton County Board of Elections on Tuesday formally rejected Black Lives Matter activist Lashawn Hawkins’ petition to run on the Democratic Party line for city councilperson-at-large.
The board conducted a short hearing Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. with Hawkins and current Councilman-at-large William Rowback Jr. It was Rowback who filed a formal objection to Hawkins’ petition, on the grounds that she had written that she was a Democrat on her petition, when she is actually registered as an independent.
The Gloversville Democratic Party Committee, led by Chairwoman Robin Wentworth, voted 7-2 on March 11 to allow Hawkins to run on the Democratic Party line in November, even though she had missed the Feb. 14 deadline to change her party registration to Democrat.
But after that, Hawkins said she was never given any advice about the petitioning process from any Democratic Party officials, including Wentworth.
Democratic Election Commissioner Gerry Ryan said Hawkins’ petition had to be invalidated because she had misidentified herself as a Democrat on the petition.
“The petition asks ‘what party are you?’, she said Democrat, but she’s not a registered Democrat — that’s it,” he said.
Hawkins described the hearing as “short and sweet.”
“They said they were throwing out the petition because I am not a registered Democrat, and you have to be registered to the party that you sign on that paper,” she said.
Another potential flaw in Hawkins’ petition was the city Democratic Committee authorization vote only allowed Hawkins to run if 31 Democratic Party members signed a political party petition allowing her to run, but those signatures had to be collected by a registered member of the party, not Hawkins herself.
“That was not protested, but that is a fact also, just not a part of [Rowback’s] objection,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the Fulton County Board of Elections was never considering pressing charges against Hawkins for possibly filing a false instrument, but admitted it was possible that Rowback or someone else in the county could attempt to file a criminal complaint with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office or the New York State Police over the matter.
Rowback did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story and did not respond to text and social media messages asking if he intends to file a criminal complaint against Hawkins.
Hawkins Tuesday said Rowback gave her no indication whether he would press for criminal charges against her during the FCBOE hearing.
“The only words he said to me the entire time I was in his presence was ‘hello’,” she said.
Hawkins said Rowback gave her no indication as to his motivation for objecting to a Democratic Party petition, and he did not reveal how he knew she had written that she was a Democrat on her petition.
Ryan said Rowback was the only person to file a formal written objection against any of the political party petitions filed in Fulton County in March, although three other people have filed forms indicating they “intended to object” to petitions, but then never followed through with a written objection.
Hawkins said she plans to begin soliciting signatures for an independent party line run for councilperson-at-large and has already picked up her petition form. State election law allows candidates to begin gathering signatures for independent party candidates starting April 13, with petitions due back to the County Board of Elections between May 18 and May 25.
“This time, I’m going to be doing things very differently, I’m not going to just be listening to whatever anybody is telling me I’m doing,” she said. “I’m going to use the actual State Board of Elections rules. I’m going down to Albany and find out exactly how I have to do this as far as being an independent. Because I don’t want someone here to misguide me, or for me to be misunderstood, as far as anything along those lines.”