ALBANY – After State Supreme Court Judge Michael Mackey ruled on July 7 that Uniting Bethlehem party candidate Kellin Rowlands did have enough signatures and ordered him to appear on the ballot this fall, the Albany County Board of Elections is appealing the judge’s decision on procedural grounds.
Originally objections were filed on June 5 by Bethlehem resident Jeff Baker for 256 of the 1,078 ballots submitted by Rowlands on May 26. Baker is a member of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee and serves as its 2nd Vice Chair.
The BOE reviewed the complaint, held a hearing and then ruled to remove Rowlands on June 14 because he was five signatures short of the required number.
The appeal, however, is not coming from the objector or the Bethlehem Democrats, but rather from the BOE, which is made up of Democrats and a Republican commissioner. The BOE hired an outside law firm, Fusco Law Office, to represent it in court on the original court case and Baker and the BDC also hired Greenberg Traung to represent Baker. Both were listed on the notice of appeal, while it also listed Matt Clyne as Rowlands’ attorney.
According to Adam Fusco, the BOE is seeking to have the entire decision restoring Rowlands to the ballot thrown out. He said there were three areas of concern: The petitioner did not provide due notice by not providing sufficient particulars of signatures to challenge; they did not bring the actual signers into court to testify and Mackey did not immediately rule on a procedural challenge brought by the defense.
Fusco also challenged the decision because Clyne was also a witness as a signer as well as Rowlands’ attorney.
A date will be set by the Appellate Division Third Judicial Department soon for oral arguments. Fusco said it should be decided by September.
Because this is not a decision for a primary election, but rather the general election, the courts do not have as much pressure to rule in the appeal, he said.
Spotlight News will have more on this story as it moves through the court system.
This story appeared on page 4 of the August 2nd, 2023 print edition of the Spotlight