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Sullivan v. Longo

Other Lower Courts

August 27, 2001

In the Matter of Anne Sullivan, Petitioner,
v.
Angela Longo et al., as Commissioners of the Oneida County Board of Elections, et al., Respondents.

Page 141

COUNSEL

Richard E. Kaplan for petitioner.

Linda M. H. Dillon, Special Assistant County Attorney of Oneida County, for Angela Longo and others, respondents.

Foley, Frye & Foley (Richard A. Frye of counsel), for George Mitchell, respondent.

OPINION

John W. Grow, J.

Petitioner Sullivan, by order to show cause, brings this CPLR article 78 proceeding seeking to declare the nomination of George Mitchell, as the Republican candidate for the Utica Common Council seat for the 3rd Ward, void, and requesting his name be removed from the Republican line of the ballot for election to that office. Sullivan is the duly nominated Democratic candidate for that seat.

Respondents seek dismissal of the proceeding. They contend Sullivan has no standing to bring the proceeding, that Mr. Mitchell properly and timely filed designating petitions and an authorization to qualify him as the Republican candidate for the office of Common Council for the 3rd Ward of Utica, and that even if there were technical irregularities there was substantial compliance with the requirements of the Election Law.

Mr. Mitchell has been a registered Democrat, residing in the 3rd Ward. He seeks to be the Republican candidate for Council member at this year's November general election. His recent change of enrollment to the Republican Party will not become effective until a date subsequent to the forthcoming election.

Election Law § 6-120 (3) sets forth, inter alia, the requirements of authorizing the designation of a person as candidate when not duly enrolled as a member of that political party and for which he seeks the nomination. That section further sets forth the requirements, once the designation has been duly made, for filing a mandated certificate of authorization. The certificate is required to be signed and acknowledged by the presiding officer and the secretary of the meeting, in this case the authorization to designate Mr. Mitchell as the Republican candidate.

There is no dispute a certificate of authorization was timely filed. Sullivan's dispute concerns the legal sufficiency of the signed certificate. Election Law § 16-102 provides that the nomination or designation of any candidate for any public office may be contested in a proceeding instituted in the Supreme

Page 142

Court by any aggrieved candidate. Sullivan contends she is an aggrieved candidate because she is the nominee of the Democratic Party for the 3rd Ward Council seat. Respondents contend she has no standing, and is not an aggrieved candidate, because she is not an enrolled member of the Republican Party.

Addressing the standing issue, case law has construed this provision as prohibiting a member of one political party from objecting to the certificate of nomination/designation of a candidate of another political party where the nature of the objections relate solely to the internal operations of the other political party. (Matter of Rose v Smith,220 A.D.2d 922 [and other cases cited therein]; also, Matter of Stempel v Albany County Bd. of Elections,97 A.D.2d 647, affd 60 N.Y.2d 801.) Sullivan argues her contest is not to the internal operations of the Republican Party, but alleges a statutory violation of section 6-120 (3). The Court finds the objection raised is a substantial matter giving Sullivan the right to ...


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