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Disqualified Nassau legislative candidate files appeal

James Coll of Seaford sought to run as

James Coll of Seaford sought to run as a Republican candidate for Nassau County legislator. Credit: James Escher

An NYPD detective who was disqualified from challenging a GOP-backed candidate for a Nassau legislative seat because of a petition error has filed an 11th-hour appeal seeking to get on the ballot.

The Appellate Division’s Second Judicial Department in Brooklyn will hear the appeal of James Coll of Seaford Sept. 11 — one day before the Sept. 12 primary. Coll is seeking to challenge John R. Ferretti Jr., the Nassau GOP’s choice to represent the 15th District.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Bogle ruled last month that Coll had a technical error on the cover sheet of his nominating petitions — he wrote 15th District Nassau County “Legislature” instead of “Legislator” — that invalidated his entire petition.

“Since day one of this campaign, we have worked to ensure the voters their right to have a choice on the ballot,” said Coll, a member of the NYPD’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, which is deployed in Texas helping with the recovery from Hurricane Harvey. “It appears, since day one of the Ferretti Jr. campaign, they have worked to obstruct that right.”

Coll is being represented pro-bono by Jericho attorney Jonathan Clarke through Election Justice USA, which describes itself as a nonpartisan coalition of activists, statisticians and attorneys.

Clarke contends Bogle erred in his “strict interpretation of case law” and that “the process has not been fair to Mr. Coll.” Clarke is an independent candidate for Oyster Bay Town supervisor and ran unsuccessfully for the 15th District seat as a Democrat in 2013.

Ferretti, a chief deputy Nassau County clerk and great-nephew of Nassau GOP chairman Joseph Mondello, said Coll “continues to be used as a pawn by the Nassau Democrats in their futile attempt to split the Republican ticket.”

The Democratic and GOP Nassau Board of Elections commissioners disagree on how to prepare for a potential primary.

In an Aug. 31 letter to attorneys in the case, Democratic Commissioner David Gugerty said the board must order ballots, hire inspectors and program voting machines for the 15 polling sites in the district.

“To do otherwise would be dereliction of our duty and could lead to the disenfranchisement of voters in the 15th Legislative District,” he wrote.

John Ryan, counsel to GOP Commissioner Louis Savinetti, said “the expenditure of resources by the Board of Elections in an anticipation of a potential reversal of the Supreme Court order would be illegal and a waste of taxpayer funds.”

The 15th District seat was vacated earlier this year by Dennis Dunne, who was appointed to the Hempstead Town Board.

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