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Town board member's name will appear on ballot for supervisor, judge rules

Town Board member Gene Cook during a board

Town Board member Gene Cook during a board meeting on April 21, 2015. Credit: Johnny Milano

Huntington Town Board member Gene Cook’s name will appear on the November ballot for town supervisor, a state Supreme Court judge ruled Tuesday.

In a legal proceeding in June, Republican nominee and Deputy Town Supervisor Ed Smyth challenged signatures on nominating petitions needed to place Cook on the ballot that were submitted to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Cook, 59, whose name will appear on the ballot on the STOP LIPA line, said Wednesday he was confident he would prevail and is looking forward to the election and listening to residents to find out what they want for Huntington’s future.

"I’m thrilled to be part of our democracy at work, this is what our forefathers wanted, the right to choose," Cook said.

Smyth said he made the challenge in Suffolk County State Supreme Court, along with two citizen objectors, Jennifer Ferucci and Ona Mastroianni, because some of the signatures on the petition looked questionable.

Smyth said he believes the petitions were carried by people endorsed by the leadership of the Democratic party, something that made the authenticity of the signatures "immediately suspicious."

He said the court’s decision did not come as a surprise.

"I welcome him to the race as I’ve done before," Smyth said.

After announcing in a February Facebook Live fundraising event from Oheka Castle that he would be running for town supervisor, Cook dropped out of the race just days later when the Huntington Republican committee named Smyth as its candidate.

At the time of the Smyth announcement, Cook said he supported Smyth.

But around May 25 Cook filed a nominating petition with 1,413 signatures to the board of elections seeking an independent line to run for Huntington supervisor. Only 750 valid signatures are needed to be placed on the ballot, according to the decision.

The court considered 976 of the signatures to determine the validity of the petition after consulting with Democrat and Republican commissioners from the board of elections who are also named in the legal proceeding.

He cited several case law examples when ruling in favor of Cook.

The judge, John J. Leo, the former Huntington town attorney, said in his decision that to invalidate Cook’s nominating petition, "the petitioners must show by clear and convincing evidence that the Stop LIPA Independent Nominating Petition is permeated by Fraud, or that Cook had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged fraud."

The Democratic candidate is Huntington Station resident, Rebecca Sanin.

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