At last, someone sues in mayor dispute

Updated: Jul. 16, 2019 at 2:04 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the dispute over how many candidates for Watertown mayor will appear on the ballot in November.

The lawsuit was filed by Watertown resident Sam Thomas, and it seeks to have all three candidates - Jeff Smith, Allison Crossman and Cody Horbacz - placed before the voters in November.

After primary day in June, Smith led in the race for mayor, but Crossman and Horbacz were tied for second.

Because Jefferson County’s elections commissioners can’t agree on how to resolve the tie - let all three onto the ballot, put Smith on by himself, hold a run-off election between Crossman and Horbacz - the race has been in limbo for three weeks.

The suit names the two elections commissioners and says their “declaration of impasse is arbitrary and capricious or is otherwise an abuse of discretion.”

Thomas told 7 News Tuesday morning, “Although I respect the opinions of the elections commissioners, the impasse that we’re at in the primary election needs to be resolved."

“My opinion is that all three candidates appear on the fall ballot,” he said.

Thomas said he was funding the legal challenge - which will be heard in state supreme court Friday - himself. He is the head of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, but has filed the legal action as a private citizen.

Crossman said she’s glad Thomas filed the suit.

“The board of elections has essentially decided not to give the voters a choice this fall on the ballot. The voters are the ones that are being neglected,” she said.

Smith, the decisive top vote-getter in the primary, also he’s pleased to see someone stepping forward to file this lawsuit.

Horbacz, however, still believes a recount of primary votes should be the first thing done.

“It’s possible that there’s a ballot in there that changes, that tips the scale, one way or the other,” he said.

Monday night, Watertown’s city council passed a resolution urging all three candidates be placed on the November ballot - and the council was just the latest in a succession of public bodies and officials who have urged that as a solution.

But Republican elections commissioner Jude Seymour has said he wants a judge to settle the issue.

The lawsuit will be heard in State Supreme Court in Watertown on Friday

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