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Judge dismisses Farley election lawsuit

Judge dismisses Farley election lawsuit

Judge's decision prevents a Democratic primary in Schenectady City Council race
Judge dismisses Farley election lawsuit
Damonni Farley poses for a picture at Schenectady High School, Nov. 18, 2015.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — There will be no Democratic primary in this year’s Schenectady City Council race.
State Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against the Schenectady County Board of Elections, a decision that ends the candidacy of Damonni Farley, who was seeking to challenge incumbent Democrats on the council.

The issue heated up two weeks ago, when former City Council President Peggy King filed an objection to Farley's petitions for a position on the ballot, an objection that was made on behalf of the Democratic Party. The objection contended that 534 of Farley’s signatures were invalid, and at a hearing that lasted several hours, the Board of Elections commissioners — one Republican, one Democrat — agreed that about 480 of those signatures were invalid. As a result, Farley fell short of the 752 signatures required to earn a spot on the Democratic Party line. 

That prompted Farley to file a petition in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County seeking to overturn the Board of Elections decision. The basis of that petition: There were at least 106 previously dismissed signatures that meet the legal requirements to count toward Farley’s petition. If included in the petition, those signatures would have given Farley 777 signatures, enough to force a primary with three incumbents.

After hearing oral arguments, Kramer dismissed the case on procedural grounds without addressing the underlying question of whether Farley had enough valid signatures.[Democratic primary in question after signatures deemed invalid]

Kramer found that Farley's lawsuit failed to contain a proper order to show cause and didn't name King as a defendant, as would have been legally required.

"Ms. King is an indispensable party because she was the individual who filed the objections to the designating petitions," states the court order.

"I'm not happy that the case wasn't even heard," Farley said after the decision. "That was really disappointing. I feel we had our signatures."

Until speaking further to his attorney, he said an appeal wasn't ruled out. His plan, though is to continue trying to win a council seat by running on the Working Families line in the November general election, he said.

"Elections come down to November, right?,"  Farley said. "So that's always the goal. Obtaining a Democratic line would have helped, but our eye was always on November. This is not over."

The Board of Elections found many of the invalid signatures on Farley's petition came from individuals not enrolled in the Democratic Party, or from people whose listed addresses fell outside the city of Schenectady. The remainder of the invalid signatures came from signatories whose addresses, as printed on the petition, did not match their registered address with the Board of Elections. It is up to individual voters to notify the board of a change of address.

As a result of Friday's decision, the Democratic City Council candidates will be party-backed incumbents John Mootooveren, Marion Porterfield and Karen Zalewski-WIldzunas.
Other candidates who have filed, or intend to file, petitions for the City Council race include GOP-endorsed Rima Cerrone and Mohamed Hafetz, as well as independent candidate Joshua Muno.

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