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Judge tosses suit against East Hampton Democratic Committee

Member Rona Klopman alleged that changes by the outgoing chairwoman were designed to benefit her successor and that she will appeal the ruling.

An attorney for East Hampton Town Democratic Committee

An attorney for East Hampton Town Democratic Committee member Rona Klopman said she will appeal the ruling. Credit: James Escher

A state judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit brought against the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee, clearing the way for the election of a chairman that had been postponed.

Committee member Rona Klopman, who is seeking the chairmanship, filed an Article 78 proceeding in April, alleging that chairwoman Jeanne Frankl shuffled voting members among the town’s 19 election districts, a move Klopman said gives an advantage to Frankl’s preferred successor, Cate Rogers. Frankl has not formally resigned, but has announced her intention to do so. An election had been expected May 16 before Justice Joseph Santorelli issued a temporary restraining order in State Supreme Court in Riverhead on May 15.

Klopman said Frankl illegally revised the member list, established during the September 2016 primary election, moving some members to districts in which they were not elected and terminating other members. Members cannot be removed from a district without resigning or failing to get enough signatures in the following election, the suit alleged. Committee member votes are weighted by district.

Santorelli dismissed the lawsuit on its merits, according to a news release from the committee. A transcript of the judge’s statements is not yet available.

Klopman’s attorney, Jonathan Wallace, said his client will appeal the decision and possibly file a new Article 78 challenge if the election moves forward.

“I’m not going to rest with the result yesterday,” Wallace said.

Frankl said Thursday that the committee will move forward with the election at its June 20 meeting.

“We are gratified today that the court recognized the pettiness of the claims in this lawsuit and the procedural irregularities of the Klopman effort,” Frankl said in a statement.

The committee is also expected on Friday to select a candidate in the special election for the seat held by incumbent Councilman David Lys.

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