When village residents head to the polls next Wednesday to cast their vote for mayor and trustee, they will get the opportunity to do so for candidates of either the Action Party or the Friends of Westbury Party. On March 3, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge William R. LaMarca dismissed a lawsuit brought forth late last month against the Action Party on the grounds that it was untimely.
In his eight-page decision, Judge LaMarca states that Joseph Masiello's petition seeking to declare the acceptances of the Action Party candidates "invalid and legally insufficient, is dismissed as untimely." According to election law, a lawsuit cannot be brought forth more than seven days after the deadline date to file nominating petitions with the village clerk. In this particular case, the deadline to file petitions for the March 18 election was Feb. 10, which meant Feb. 17 would have been the last day to institute the proceeding. Masiello's lawsuit was filed and received by the courts Feb. 20.
As a result, mayoral candidate Peter Cavallaro and trustee candidates Joan Boes and William Wise can remain candidates on the March 18 ballot.
The judge's decision also dismisses charges against Village Clerk Ted Blach and the Action Party Committee to Fill Vacancies (which includes Mayor Ernest Strada, Trustee Steve Corte and attorney Lawrence Boes), who were also named in the action.
The decision is the result of an Order to Show Cause filed Feb. 19 by Friends of Westbury mayoral candidate Masiello and trustee candidate Lou Neziri in an attempt to have the Action Party candidates removed from the ballot. As petitioners, Masiello and Neziri alleged that the Action Party failed to "acknowledge" the acceptance of their nominations according to Article 6 of the New York State Election Law (an acknowledgment is more than a standard notarization but rather something more specific through which a notary certifies the identity of the person and execution of the document).
Attorney Kenneth Gray argued that his Action Party clients - and those who ran over the course of the past 15 years - followed Article 15, which deals specifically with village elections and that the phrase "acknowledge" is intentionally omitted from that Article for a reason.
While Judge LaMarca did not render a decision on the applicableness of the Articles at question, his eight-page judgment discusses but doesn't rule on the action's merit. "He ruled on and dismissed the action based on it being untimely but went on to further discuss the merits and indicated that [Masiello's action] was not a meritorious claim," said Gray.
In his decision, LaMarca in fact states that, in 1972, "Election Law ... was amended to carve out a special section governing village elections [that] did not contain a requirement that acceptances for nominations be notarized..." The judge also states, however, that "it cannot conclude that the legislature intended [Article 6 be] applied to village elections ... [and that] the legislature amended [Article 15] in 1994 but chose not to add the requirement that a certificate of acceptance be acknowledged ..."
"We believe the judge was correct in dismissing it as untimely and that his comments that underlying merits [of the action] were unsupported by the law," said Gray. "The candidates are pleased that the court was able to see their points of view and are looking forward to election day."
As of press time an appeal had not been filed.