This letter was written by Michael Grace, candidate for Yorktown Supervisor, and Tom DeChiaro, candidate for Yorktown Councilman in response to Friday's court's decision.
Today [August 5], as reported, the Supreme Court dismissed our action challenging the Independence Party nominees for Town Supervisor and Town Councilman.
The Court did so on the grounds that the action, although filed timely and served in accordance with the Order of the Court, was not timely served on the individual respondent-candidates.
We are understandably disappointed that the Court dismissed the proceeding on a service technicality but more disappointed that the Courts decision precluded a hearing of our action on its merits.
Our decision to file the action was not primarily directed at the respondent-candidates. Its objective was to expose the practice of the Independence Party which holds back its official endorsements of candidates for public office until the last day before signatures are due for filing. Doing so allows the Party Leadership to withdraw the endorsement at the last moment even though the unwitting candidate has been represented to the voters as the endorsed candidate for some months.
Every other political party endorses its slate long before their endorsed candidates circulate petitions to obtain signatures.
The larger issue is the practice of the Independence Party not to officially endorse candidates until the day before designating petitions containing voter signatures are due for filing.
We believe this practice offends the integrity of the electoral process. The public as well as the candidate are mislead that the candidate has been authorized by the
Independence Party to circulate petitions when if fact they have not been so authorized; the authorization from the Independence Party being withheld until the eve of the filing and the Independence Party reserving the option to nullify signed designating petitions at the last minute. This is exactly what happened to County Legislator John Testa. The Independence Party announced John Testa had received the Partys endorsement in a press release published in the Journal News on June 7th, 2011. However, on July 13th that endorsement was pulled away from Mr. Testa when the official authorization of the party took place; nullifying the Independence Party petitions circulated and signed on behalf of Mr. Testa.
The issue for the voting public is that with Democrat and Republican enrolled voters being almost an even split, the minor parties, such as the Independence Party hold the power to sway an election result, concentrating significant political power in the Independence Party. The issue particular to the Independence Party is that many of its enrollees believe they are independen t with a T (Not Affiliated with a Political Party). Yet they are. They are as much a member of a party as are Republicans and Democrats. To be a truly independent voter the proper registration is as a non- declared voter.
The end result is that voters who really wish to be independent but register with the Independence Party, empower the Independence Party and its nominating committee to pass out endorsements. These endorsements are not based upon principles of independent thinking or a candidates independent character, but on political favor. To ensure a candidates continued loyalty to the party leadership, you get the promise of an endorsement while the official endorsement is withheld until the day before designating petitions are due.
Independence Party voters need to know how their party operates. A political philosophy of independent thinking and independent action clearly does not drive party endorsements. This is why the Independence Party can in the same action endorse such disparate candidates as Nick Bianco, decidedly anti-business, and Dave Paganelli, a small business owner or Susan Siegel in 2009 and Don Peters in 2011.
Unfortunately, with the Court passing on deciding our action on the merits, the political sausage makers get to keep their chefs hats.
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