A slate of Long Beach incumbents in a divided Democratic Party have filed suit to disqualify a group of primary challengers for Long Beach City Council by claiming the petition signatures were fraudulent and collected improperly.
Incumbent City Council members Scott Mandel and Chumi Diamond will return to court Wednesday with Long Beach Independent Democratic Chairwoman Darlene Tangney to contest the 1,275 signatures filed by challengers Barbara Bernardino, Joe Miccio and Runnie Myles.
The city requires each candidate to collect 500 signatures to make the ballot for the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.
The suit, filed July 26 in Nassau State Supreme Court, challenges the validity of the signatures for reasons ranging from fraudulent signatures to wrong addresses or party affiliation and clerical errors. If the challenge is upheld, the three candidates may not appear on the primary ballot.
“The alleged designating petition filed by . . . candidates is insufficient, ineffective, false, fraudulent and invalid and does not conform to the provisions of the election law,” the lawsuit states.
The suit also says the petition does not have the minimum number of valid signatures and says the signatures were forged and “not personally signed by the names listed” or “were signed without their authority and without their knowledge.”
An attorney representing Miccio, Bernardino and Myles could not be reached for comment. Miccio said he collected signatures from Long Beach residents seeking a change in City Hall, and said no signatures were forged on the petition. He said he expected some signatures to be disqualified for technicalities, but added that there should still be more than enough for him and his running mates to make the ballot.
“They took every single possible charge there could be to see what they could find out that sticks,” Miccio said of the incumbents. “Each thing they’re trying to strike is a person in Long Beach.”
Jared Kasschau, a Uniondale attorney for Mandel and Diamond, said the court will compare signatures on the petitions with signatures on voter registration records, and review whether there were enough irregularities to invalidate the petitions.
No challenges have been made against the 1,000 petition signatures filed by Mandel and Diamond.
Diamond said they are contesting the challengers’ petition through the courts to make sure it follows the state election law.
“We reviewed all the petitions submitted by each candidate and have come to the conclusion that some petitions may have run afoul of the law,” Diamond said. “We are going through the normal legal remedies afforded to candidates to ensure that our electoral process is clean and fair.”