A state Supreme Court judge has thrown a Brookhaven Republican town board challenger off the primary ballot because he failed to ask those who signed his petitions to swear a required oath about their identity.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Gary Weber said Raymond Negron "as a general practice did not go beyond the mere solicitation of signatures of this designating petitions when he gathered them in his capacity as a notary public."
Under election law, notaries must give an oath in which signers swear to their identity and that they are aware they are signing a candidate's petitions for office.
Weber's ruling threatens to end the candidacy of Negron, a fiery former city firefighter and assistant town attorney, whose challenge to two-term Conservative town board incumbent Jane Bonner brought the petition challenge from the town GOP, which cross-endorsed her.
Negron, 43, of Mount Sinai, called the ruling "unbelievable" in light of the 1,058 signatures he filed for a race that required only 500 valid signatures. Even if the judge threw out the more than 480 signatures he collected for himself, Negron said he still had more than enough collected by others to qualify.
The primary challenger said the party reacted harshly because he has made a major issue of eliminating patronage and no-show jobs from town government.
Negron said he was unsure he could appeal because of the Appellate Division's deadline of Tuesday for considering election cases.
Jesse Garcia, Brookhaven GOP leader, said the ruling "validates that we put forward the best candidate in Jane Bonner" and that "there were serious questions about the manner in which her opponent collected and circulated his petitions."
Even before the petition challenge, Republicans went to great lengths to block Negron's candidacy, including automated calls to GOP voters in the district warning them not to sign Negron's petitions because his candidacy was part of "dirty tricks by the Democrats."
Weber issued his ruling after hearing from a half dozen witnesses that Negron did not give the oath that is required when a notary public collects nominating petitions. Negron contends their testimony was vague and not specific.
In making his decision, Weber cited a 2007 Westchester case, Drace v. Sadegh, which found a petition "may be invalidated when there is a finding that the candidate has participated in or is chargeable with knowledge of fraud in procuring signatures . . . even if there is a sufficient number of signatures independently of those fraudulantly procured."