A judge on Wednesday dismissed a Democratic candidate’s lawsuit asking to invalidate an opponent’s candidacy for the June 22 primary, alleging she lied about witnessing five people sign her nomination papers.
In state Supreme Court of Schenectady County, Carl Williams sued fellow candidate Doreen Ditoro. Both are vying to fill a two-year vacancy on the City Council. It is one of two vacant seats up for grabs.
Endorsed by city Democrats for one of the seats, Williams’s case included affidavits from five tenants of Summit Towers on Albany Street who denied Ditoro saw them sign the nominating petitions.
The five witnesses were shown a picture of Ditoro from a Daily Gazette article. They said in affidavits that the photo did not match the woman who came to their door and said she was Ditoro. One signee said he spoke to a black woman.
But three of the witnesses did not show up for court, while Judge Michael Cuevas wrote that the two others’ statements weren’t convincing.
One witness testified he simply did not remember signing a petition, or anyone coming to his door, which conflicted with his affidavit, Cuevas wrote.
The other witness was just as ambivalent and unclear in his testimony, according to the judge. The witness’s recollection about a parking lot conversation he said with the purported black woman was fuzzy, and he denied on the record ever seeing the newspaper article with the photograph of Ditoro, according to the decision.
In a case alleging fraud, the judge wrote that the petitioner bears a higher standard of proof – one that’s clear and convincing.
In a statement Wednesday, Ditoro, who was represented by attorney Paul Davenport, called the decision a “sweeping condemnation” of Williams’ effort to invalidate her candidacy.
“I entered this race with a big heart and a lot of energy,” said Ditoro, who’s been endorsed by Councilman John Polimeni. “While I still have both, I have learned just how disingenuous politics can be. As a deeply religious and honest person, I have done everything by the book, and despite this meritless attack on my integrity I will not engage in mudslinging.”
The candidate went on to say that she would not be “silenced by Mr. Williams or his backers, as I am not easily swayed or intimidated, nor am I a quitter.”
Williams, who was represented by attorney James Long, told the Daily Gazette:
“Regardless of today’s ruling, which I respect, I will remain an advocate for addressing questionable and inconsistent behavior. I move forward with challenging Doreen Ditoro’s petitions to emphasize the importance of our residents having candidates running campaigns based on integrity and honesty. I vow to always place the interest of the city before my own.”
Board of Elections Commissioners Darlene Harris and Amy Hild were also named respondents in the case.