Watertown mayoral candidates, lawyer watch and wait

wwny Watertown mayoral candidates, lawyer watch and wait

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Allison Crossman's lawyer John Ciampoli says he's waiting to see the certified numbers from Watertown's primary mayoral race before moving forward. The deadline to certify the numbers was Monday. The ballot needs to be certified by September 12.

“Once I have the numbers in hand, it gives me at least a basis to talk to them and then we can begin to delve into who goes on the ballot,” said Ciampoli.

But the Jefferson County Board of Elections commissioners say the numbers have been certified and were sent to the state Board of Elections on Friday.

Jeff Smith had 837 votes, the most in last month’s primary, but Allison Crossman and Cody Horbacz are both tied with 597 votes for the second slot on November’s ballot.

The city’s election law isn’t clear on what should happen in the case of a tie.

The board of elections commissioners disagree on who to put on the ballot and have decided that if no legal action is taken they will certify a general election ballot with zero candidates on it.

Ciampoli and Crossman’s position is that all 3 candidates should be put on the ballot. That’s how they are interpreting the city’s election law.

Ciampoli says Crossman is prepared to take legal action if she has to, but he says the board of elections should bring it to court. He points to a recent case he was a part of in St. Lawrence County where that happened.

“The best way to do it is for the county attorney to go in and say I’m authorized by the commissioners to put each of their positions before you and allow the court to decide this,” said Ciampoli.

But both elections commissioners want someone to sue them to resolve the matter.

Republican Elections Commissioner Jude Seymour says he can see how it would be a miscarriage of justice to certify a ballot with zero names on it, but he doesn’t think it will come to that.

“I believe that the candidates and that the city of Watertown have a vested interest in seeing names on that ballot for the general election and I would expect legal action to come from either the city of the candidates themselves,” said Seymour.

Democratic Commissioner Babette Hall says she doesn’t feel the board of elections is responsible for taking legal action. She feels it’s up to the city because its election law is not clear on what to do when there’s a tie.

“I don’t feel that we in the elections office has done anything wrong with the elections, I don’t feel that the candidates did anything wrong. We’re following the city’s nonpartisan primary elections law and it’s unclear. So if the city is needing someone on the mayor’s ballot this general election, I think the city would have to take some responsibility and act on it.”

As for the other candidates, Cody Horbacz says he’s waiting for a judge to make a decision. His goal is still to have the ballots recounted by hand.

Jeff Smith says he has no intention on bringing any legal action. He says he can’t imagine the winner of the primary won’t be on the ballot.

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