Mayoral candidate Roger Hull challenged Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy to an early debate Monday and alleged that McCarthy illegally kept Hull off the ballot on the minor party lines.
Hull managed to collect enough signatures to force a write-in primary campaign for all three minor parties, and demanded a debate with McCarthy before the primary on Sept. 13.
“Any time, anywhere, any format you like,” Hull said, making his challenge public during the privilege of the floor section of the City Council meeting.
But McCarthy, who oversaw campaigns for many years as the chair of the local Democratic committee, critiqued Hull’s methods rather than giving him a definite answer on his challenge.
It’s too early to debate, McCarthy said.
“It’s odd. It shows inexperience,” he said of Hull’s challenge. “People now don’t care. You get past Labor Day, people start to care.”
The primaries are a week after Labor Day. If Hull were to win, his name would appear on that party’s line on Election Day, giving him a better chance of beating McCarthy.
Hull is the founder of the new Alliance Party, and has been endorsed by the Republicans. McCarthy is a Democrat.
The minor parties in question are the Conservative, Independence and Working Families, all of which have endorsed McCarthy.
Hull acknowledged that write-in campaigns rarely succeed. He had hoped to force a primary in which his name was on the ballot. But he didn’t collect enough signatures for that — a situation for which he blamed McCarthy.
He told McCarthy that he should have allowed more Alliance Party supporters to become Commissioner of Deeds. Those who collect signatures of residents who are not of the same party — such as Republicans collecting Independence Party signatures — must be a commissioner.
McCarthy, as mayor, can grant or deny commissioner applications. He approved Hull, but denied others, including Hull’s son, who threatened to sue.
McCarthy then approved his application — but sent the answer through regular mail just before the deadline for primary election petitions.
“So it arrived four days after he no longer needed it,” Hull said, calling McCarthy’s decision “illegal” and “wrong.”
“Public servants should be there to serve the public, not themselves,” Hull said. “You said [it] was done because you didn’t want to make it easier for us. You don’t have the right!”
McCarthy said last month that he denied some applications because “I just don’t want people working against me.”
On Monday, he said he simply wanted to make sure commissioners met the eligibility requirements.