Tuxedo Park residents will have to wait until fall to find out who their next mayor will be.
In Orange County Supreme Court last week, Justice Maria Vazquez-Doles ordered the attorneys for both candidates to submit legal briefs addressing whether an absentee ballot can be accepted from a voter who registers within ten days of the election – even if the voter was not registered at the time the ballot was cast, and even if the voter had certified at the time they were registered under oath.
The legal briefs are due on Sept. 29. This pushes the mayoral decision to October, at the earliest – more than three months after voters went to the polls on June 20.
Marc Citrin, who challenged the incumbent mayor, David McFadden, said he was disappointed about the extended delay. “I implored the court to expedite proceedings for the benefit of the village,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, none of the attorneys or the mayor stood up to join me in this request.”
He said he attended a closed courtroom settlement conference before the judge last Wednesday that lasted more than an hour but did not reach an agreement. The huddle included the petitioner, Claudio Guazzoni de Zanett, and his attorney; Mayor McFadden; and the attorneys for the village, village clerk and trustees Joshua Scherer and Paul Brooke. He said the judge granted the extension after Guazzoni asked to add more claims to his petition.
“It has been my position since election day that all of the approximately 150 uncontested absentee ballots should be opened and tabulated immediately,” Citrin said in his statement. If the count of uncontested ballots shows an insurmountable lead for one of the candidates, he said, the validity of the other 30 ballots would be a “moot” issue.
McFadden said he did not wish to respond to Citrin’s statement.
In an answer filed with the court on July 24, McFadden said the petitioner, Guazzoni, “has purposely misled this Court, undermined its authority, and negatively affected the rights of the Parties and the electorate by misrepresenting himself to be Public Advocate and aggrieved voter.” He asked that Guazzoni’s “improperly obtained ex parte” temporary restraining order that stopped the vote count be “vacated in its entirety,” and that the counting be allowed to continue as prescribed by the state legislature.
The attorneys for the village, village clerk, and trustees Brooke and Scherer have appealed to vacate the temporary restraining order filed on election day.
Petitioner accuses mayor of fraud
Guazzoni’s attorney, John Sarcone, said in an email to The Photo News that they are filing a second amended petition in about a week that will describe in detail “the fraud that McFadden and his cohorts perpetrated in this election.” He said the case can be resolved now if McFadden were to agree to count only those absentee ballots from voters registered at the time they cast their votes.
“All legally cast ballots can be counted and the election results can be certified,” Sarcone said. “If he does not and his attorney Mr. (Michael) Burger advises to proceed, the fraud charges will be decided by the court and yeah that could take us into October.”
The incumbent’s term ended on July 3, but under state law he will continue to serve until the results are certified. Guazzoni called McFadden a “holdover mayor” who “seems to well understand that the only way for him to stay in power is to have the fraudulent ballots counted as well.”
Sarcone has said McFadden harvested votes by distributing absentee ballots to people not eligible to vote in Tuxedo Park, including residents’ adult children who now live elsewhere.
Guazzoni, who identifies himself as Tuxedo Park’s nongovernmental public advocate - a claim McFadden disputes – brought the initial petition that stopped the vote on election day. He lauded the court’s most recent decision in a statement that said “democracy for the Village of Tuxedo Park was upheld by the Supreme Court.”
“The court seems to have grasped the issues, and seems to have recognized that our proceeding, which is brought on by an individual voter, is in reality on behalf of the community, and, under the recently amended law, is the only way to prevent errors in the election process such as allowing illegal votes into the canvass and counting of the votes of this village.”
Note: This article has been updated.
“It has been my position since election day that all of the approximately 150 uncontested absentee ballots should be opened and tabulated immediately.”
Challenger Marc Citrin
“It has always been (my) role...to safeguard the citizens’ fundamental constitutional right to free and fair...election. Where every lawful vote is counted and where one voter is not permitted to threaten the rights of his fellow citizens by challenging his neighbor and fellow citizens’ count of ballots.”
Mayor David McFadden