Written by Karen Gellender Friday, 20 August 2010 00:00
After the validity of her petitions was challenged via a court action by the Nassau County Democratic Party, Francesca Carlow of Plainview is still on the ballot for the Democratic Primary in September. After a lengthy, three-and-a-half-day trial, Special Referee Marston Gibson and Judge Thomas Adams ruled that there wasn’t sufficient evidence of fraud to disqualify Carlow from running against Dave Mejias for a chance to run for the 6th district seat in the State Senate, currently held by Republican Kemp Hannon.
“My opponents are trying vehemently to disqualify the 3500 signatures that I got,” said Carlow. “They proceeded to court, absolutely wasting unbelievable amounts of taxpayer money, which is making me even more infuriated,” the Trio Hardware co-owner continued.
While challenging an opponent’s petitions may be business-as-usual in politics, Carlow’s lawyer, Bernard M. Alter, feels that the Nassau County Democratic Committee has crossed a line. Mr. Alter told the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald that in his legal career, he has never seen the kind of ‘abuse’ that his client has had to endure. According to Alter, 20 of Carlow’s campaign workers, friends and family were served subpoenas; some were served at 3 p.m. on Saturday for a Monday court date, he said.
“They dragged everybody and their mother to court,” he said, “Jay Jacobs will not allow you to run a race in Nassau County without hitting you with an army of lawyers to try to prevent democracy,” Alter continued, referring to the Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman. He further commented that the strain the drawn-out petition challenge process in Nassau County puts on candidates, like his client, is the real issue that voters should be aware of, and that the actions of the Democratic committee amount to “a direct attack on democracy.”
Susan Naftol, a Plainview resident and life-long Democrat, who helped collect signatures for Carlow, explained the process as “a total waste of time and energy,” and went on to say that Carlow’s 3,000-plus signatures- more than triple the number required to force a primary- showed how relevant Carlow’s campaign is to local residents. “They’re trying to squelch a candidate who the people obviously want to be on the ballot, and they’re trying to keep her out of the running, and I think this is disgusting,” Naftol commented. “This is not the democratic process that I’ve always believed in,” she said, going on to characterize the actions of the Nassau County Democratic Committee as “disgusting and disheartening.”
Mike Premo, Dave Mejias’ campaign manager, said that he thinks that Carlow is being hypocritical. According to Premo, Carlow availed herself of the petitions process by challenging the petitions of opponent Ethan Irwin before her petitions were challenged by the Democratic Committee, meaning that, in his view, she no longer has the right to complain about the petitions process. “This is all part of the democratic process,” said Premo, going on to say that similar processes are currently going on throughout the state.
It remains to be seen whether the committee will take the case to Appellate Court in hopes of a different ruling.