Carmel resident Michael Stern had a victory last week in his quest to get on the November ballot in the race for town highway superintendent, after a New York State Supreme Court justice ruled that he earned his place there by virtue of nearly 1,700 petition signatures he submitted to the Board of Elections in June.
However, the decision is being appealed by the county.
Stern said the BOE earlier this year claimed that he, the “Concerned Taxpayers of Carmel” candidate, was disqualified based on a mailing technicality. When he challenged the board in court, it again tried to throw his case out on what Stern calls “technicalities.”
“The board never challenged that Stern had properly filed more than two times the signatures of registered voters needed to qualify for the ballot,” reads a statement from the candidate.
In a 17-page decision issued Aug. 29, the Hon. Hal Greenwald ruled that Stern had properly qualified for the ballot, and that his challenge to the board’s ruling disqualifying him as arbitrary was properly commenced.
Late in the evening Aug 29, the county filed a Notice of Appeal to the court’s decision, seeking to have it overturned by the Appellate Division in Brooklyn.
Stern has called on the county to withdraw its appeal.
“I respect the county’s initial decision to support its commissioners, but now is the time to accept that I am a candidate and time to stop spending taxpayer dollars in an effort to disenfranchise Putnam County voters,” he said. “The next highway superintendent should be chosen by the voters of Carmel, not by a couple of judges in New York City.”
If the appeal is unsuccessful, Stern will be on the ballot in November as the only challenger to Gerard Ahler, who received the Republican line by default when the endorsed Republican candidate, longtime incumbent Michael Simone, withdrew from the election in the spring.
Stern, a first-time candidate and 15-year employee of the highway department, applauded the court’s decision.
“I am happy the court has ruled in favor of the people of the Town of Carmel who will now have a fair choice at the ballot box in November” if the county’s appeal is unsuccessful, he said, noting that there is no Democratic candidate in the race and that a different ruling would have left no choice for taxpayers.