Court: Hardwick opponents eligible to run

Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick listens during a meeting Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick listens during a meeting in Freeport. (July 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Chris Ware

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The slate opposing Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick is eligible to run in this month's village elections, a Nassau County Supreme Court judge has ruled.

Hardwick sued his opponents in the March 19 election -- Robert Kennedy, Carmen Pineyro and Ronald Ellerbe -- claiming the candidates' nominating petitions were invalid and that Kennedy did not live within the village's limits.

But Judge Arthur Diamond ruled on Monday that "the court will not consider the allegations of fraud," and the candidates will appear on the ballot.

Kennedy, a village trustee, is challenging Hardwick for a four-year mayoral term, while trustee Pineyro and newcomer Ellerbe face Hardwick's slate of trustee candidates, Annette Dennis and James Caracciolo, for two seats.

Kennedy released a statement Tuesday that said he and his allies "are pleased with the court's ruling and satisfied in knowing that democracy and the people's right to choose has prevailed."

Attempts to reach Hardwick and his attorney, Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, were not successful.

Hardwick's lawsuit said the petitions filed by his opponents were invalid because they included signatures of residents who are not registered to vote in Freeport.

Diamond ruled that Hardwick failed to substantiate that claim. The judge also ruled that Hardwick's charge that Kennedy lived outside the village was false because Kennedy's bank records, utility bills and other documents "all show that he resides" in Freeport.

Kennedy and Pineyro ran on Hardwick's slate in 2009 but since have had a falling out over various issues.

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