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Albany County Leg. Candidates Sue To Get Back On Ballot

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Some hopeful candidates for seats on the Albany County Legislature have gone to court after being thrown off the ballot.

Five candidates who've been kicked off the ballot were apparently led to believe that, because this is a redistricting year, rules that say one must live in the district they are vying to represent do not apply.

Legislature Chair Shawn Morse: "I certainly don't take advice from anybody. If somebody said to me, 'oh you can do that,' it's incumbent upon me to check, and to make sure. Now there is a provision in the charter for the county that allows for an incumbent, if their lines have been redistricted out into a new district, that they could run. There's also a provision in the charter that says you have to live in your district for one year prior to being able to run."

Normally there is a one-year residency requirement, outlined in the county charter, that would determine the legitimacy of a fair bid to run for office.

The Albany County Board of Elections knocked former County Legislator Brian Scavo off the ballot last week for listing a Barclay Street address as his residence on ballot petitions for a 9th Legislative District seat.  Barclay lies outside that district. Scavo argues that he represented many of the same voters in the new 9th district that he served in the old 7th district.

Clifton Dixon also was booted from the ballot on Tuesday, the board citing the Washington Avenue address appearing on his petitions as not in the 4th Legislative District he would like to represent. Dixon, who is is challenging the board’s ruling in state Supreme Court based on a 2003 decision involving a legislative race in Colonie, argues he was recently drawn out of the 4th:  "Because the line was pushed to the middle of my road. The side of the street I'm on, I'm not in the district. The other side is in the district, unbeknownst to me. I thought at first, in that third week in June when I first contacted the board, that they had just forgot to put that block into the walksheet."

Scavo has also filed a lawsuit and appeared in court Thursday morning. In a post on twitter, Times Union reporter Jordan Carleo-Evangelist said it was "an interesting hearing" and noted that the judge withheld ruling on Scavo's case until next week. Dixon is due in court Monday.  "I just wanna make my arguments to the court. I'm not an attorney. Unfortunately I can't afford an attorney, and I think that's also part of the equation, is that they do this to disenfranchise people who don't have the expertise to bring the case like I did, pro se, or don't have the money to hire an attorney to do  it."

Legislature Chair Shawn Morse:   "The bottom line is, everybody who runs a campaign should make sure that they understand what it takes to run the campaign, what are the rules, how are they applied, and what you have to do individually to make sure that you're within the scope of those rules and that you run your campaign so that this doesn't happen."

A message seeking comment from Matt Clyne at the Board of Elections was not returned in time for broadcast.

Across the river, a Rensselaer County Judge ruled Troy mayoral candidate Ernest Everett's 855 petition signatures are valid and he will remain on the ballot. Everett fought off a challenge by a fellow candidate. 1  "Rodney Wiltshire's camp objected to some of signatures by saying things like we couldn't possibly get 100 in one day or multiple people signed for other people on the ballot. However, you know, I find it to be a matter of disrespect to not only the people that had supported me by walking with my petitions, but those people that had signed. I think it's just politics as usual, and we need to change the status quo."

Does Everett have any words for the Albany County candidates? "If it is in your will to help and serve your community, forge on and continue to fight."

Wiltshire did not immediately return a call for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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