Freeport mayor sues opponents in village election
Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick has sued his opponents in next month's village election, claiming that the candidates' nominating petitions are invalid and one of the candidates does not live within the village's limits.
Hardwick is seeking his second four-year term in a race against Trustee Robert Kennedy, a former ally of Hardwick.
The mayor now contends Kennedy lives outside the village. Kennedy called Hardwick's claim "disgraceful," and said he hasn't moved from his Freeport home since he ran as Hardwick's running mate in 2009.
Hardwick's lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Nassau County, also says petitions filed by Kennedy, Trustee Carmen Piñeyro and trustee candidate Ronald Ellerbe are invalid because they include signatures of residents who are not registered to vote in Freeport.
Piñeyro, another former Hardwick ally, and Ellerbe are running against Hardwick's slate -- Annette Dennis and James Caracciolo -- for two seats on the village board.
Hardwick's attorney, Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, said the candidates have about 80 of the required 100 signatures needed to run for village office.
"My review indicates that they have insufficient signatures," he said.
Kennedy, Piñeyro and Ellerbe adamantly disputed Hardwick's charge, which they characterized as a last-ditch attempt to get opponents off the ballot.
Piñeyro, who is of Dominican descent, said a majority of the signatures Hardwick is challenging are from Hispanic voters, which she said is an attempt by the mayor to keep Hispanic voters from the polls.
She called the suit a "shameful tactic to divert attention from his dismal record as mayor."
Schlesinger said, "If they are not registered, they are not registered."
The case is due to be heard Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Nassau County. The election is set for March 19.