2016-09-15 / Front Page

GOP awaits decision on its petitions to force councilmanic district on to November ballot

Dems say challenge likely since they found some "fraudulent"signatures
by Carolyn James

Babylon Town Republicans filed a 2,500 name petition with Babylon Town Clerk Carol Quirk last week to force a referendum on the ballot November 8. The referendum will, if the petition survives what is likely to be a legal challenge by the Democrats, ask voters if the Town Board should be made up of councilmatic districts with each district represented by a council person elected by disttrict residents only.

Currently, while the council people generally are associated with the part of the Town in which they live, they are elected by the entire town and represent the interests of the Town as a whole.

The petition drive, which was required to gather at least 1,900 signatures, took place in late August, some of the hottest days of the summer. The success of the drive under those conditions is a testament to the Republican supporters who got out there and knocked on doors and the interest of the voters in seeing the question on the ballot, said GOP Committeeman and Amityville Village Trustee Nick LaLota. 

“What this will do is essential give the people a choice as to what kind of government they want,” added Shawn Cullinane, Lindenhurst Village Clerk and a Republican Committeeman who hand delivered the petititions to the Town Clerk’s office last week.

Already the Democrats have shown an interest in challenging the petitions by filing general objections, which they are required to do if they want to proceed with specific objections to the petitions. Those general objections were filed by Christine Monteforte of West Babylon, a secretary for North Babylon attorney William Wexler; Dan Caroleo, a North Babylon School Board Trustee and fhis son, John F. Caroleo, both North Babylon residents. John Caroleo is also an assistant fire chief in North Babylon.

The next step is for Quirk to rule on the form of the petition, which she is expected to do this coming week. If she finds them improper, they can be thrown out or the Republicans can challenge that decision.

If she finds them in order, then the Democrats must file 

specific objections if the challenge is to proceed.

The question would then head to State Supreme Court.

“I can tell you that we will be filing them (specific objections) based on the fact that we believe a number of witnesses (those who hand carry the petitions and gather the signatures) did not actually witness the people signing them,” said Babylon Town Supervisor  and County Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer. “We believe that as many as 61 individuals who took the signatures did not witness them and that there may be as many as ten fraudulent signatures.”

“My position is that they are all valid and there is nothing fraudulent about them,” said Babylon Town Republican Chairman Anthony Pancella. “And the fact that we were able to get so many in such a short time indicates that the people of Babylon want the questions on the ballot and councilmatic districts. “


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