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Judge allows challenge to Esposito signatures to continue

A challenge by Republican Tom Croci to Adrienne Esposito’s State Senate candidacy on the Women’s Equality Line is still alive after a judge ruled that Esposito properly was served with legal papers.

A final decision on whether Esposito will run on the newly created line is expected next week by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Another state Supreme Court hearing on the challenge is set for Sept. 23.

Croci and Esposito are facing off in the Third Senate District. Croci, the Islip Town supervisor, has the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines in the race. Esposito, an environmental activist, is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines. Esposito does not belong to a political party.

Croci’s campaign said that of the 4,248 signatures filed on her petitions for the Women’s Equality Line, 2,245 were found to be invalid.

Esposito testified in court that she didn’t see the “Order to Show Cause and Request for Judicial Intervention” until between 12 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 3, when she left her Patchogue home to take out the garbage.

She testified that the papers were under a mat outside her front door, according to the order released Wednesday by state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Santorelli.
The deadline to invalidate the petitions was Sept. 2.

The Croci campaign brought Frank Greenfield, a private investigator and process server, to testify, according to the order. Greenfield said he had attached the legal papers to Esposito’s door with shipping or packaging tape, and that he also mailed copies on Sept. 2.

The judge said Greenfield “testified in a direct and forthright manner.” Santorelli also noted that Esposito didn't deny she received the notice, but that she became aware of it “at or about 12 a.m. on Sept. 3. Thus adequate notice of the proceeding was given...”

Esposito campaign spokesman Mike Fricchione called the attempt to throw her off the Women’s Equality Line on the ballot an attack on women’s equality. Esposito would be the first female state senator from Suffolk County.

Christine Geed, spokeswoman for the Croci campaign, said, “this has absolutely, positively nothing to do with women or women's equality. It has to do with the appropriateness with the filing and legality of the filing.”

The Senate district, currently represented by Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), extends from Mastic Beach and Shirley to Sayville on the South Shore and includes parts of Ronkonkoma and Hauppauge.

It’s considered one of the most competitive senate seats on Long Island this year. Democrats are hoping for a pickup to take control of the State Senate.

A separate challenge against Esposito's candidacy, by Ronkonkoma resident Marie Mawn, was dismissed. Santorelli ruled the paperwork was sent improperly — it was sent via FedEx, instead of by regular mail, as required by law.

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