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Long Beach Dems win suit after challengers concede

Joe Miccio, Barbara Bernardino and Runnie Myles gave

Joe Miccio, Barbara Bernardino and Runnie Myles gave up their bid to appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A slate of Long Beach City Council challengers conceded in court Wednesday that they did not have enough petition signatures to force a Democratic primary next month, clearing the way for two Democratic incumbents to run in November.

Challengers Joe Miccio, Barbara Bernardino and Runnie Myles gave up their bid to appear on the Sept. 12 primary ballot after Independent Democratic Chairwoman Darlene Tangney and incumbents Scott Mandel and Chumi Diamond filed a lawsuit July 26 alleging the signatures were fraudulent and collected improperly.

Nassau Supreme Court Justice James P. McCormack granted the order to invalidate the petition Wednesday after the challenger ticket conceded that for technical reasons, such as incorrect addresses, names and filing dates, they would not have enough signatures to meet the 641-name requirement set by the Nassau County Board of Elections.

The challengers did not admit to fraud or forgery, and waived their right to appeal, according to a court spokesman.

“They stipulated their petition had an insufficient number of signatures and their names will not appear on the ballot,” said Jared Kasschau, a Uniondale attorney who represented Tangney, Mandel and Diamond.

Miccio said he and Bernardino and Myles conceded after seeing a number of signatures they had collected thrown out for not meeting the strict guidelines of election law, such as writing a full name in a signature.

He said the candidates also were concerned about whether the Nassau County district attorney would seek criminal charges against them if the judge made a ruling that found forgery or fraud.

“We knew where this was going to go. We didn’t have the resources to get hundreds of people to identify their signature,” Miccio said. “We couldn’t do it and had to worry about fraud allegations. This was absolutely not fraud.”

Testimony began last week by several voters who said their spouses or family members may have signed their names for them on the petition. The Nassau Board of Elections invalidated 407 of the 1,275 signatures the slate submitted before the trial began.

Attorneys for the incumbents were seeking to invalidate another 445 signatures, alleging acts of forgery or fraud. The judge had been ruling on signatures line by line this week and was expected to issue a ruling by Friday.

Mandel and Diamond now will receive the Democratic nomination for the November general election along with West End Civic Association president John Bendo. Bendo was not included in the lawsuit.

Mandel and Diamond said in a joint statement issued after the ruling that they will continue to run on making the city safer and planning for smart and sustainable development.

The Democrats will face a Republican ticket of Leah Tozer, Christopher Jones and William Haas as well as Green Party candidates Allison Blanchette and Joseph Naham.

In an earlier version of this story, the first name of Green Party candidate Allison Blanchette was spelled incorrectly.

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