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Brookhaven GOP to appeal ruling in contested council race

Brookhaven Town council Democratic incumbent Connie Kepert and

Brookhaven Town council Democratic incumbent Connie Kepert and Republican challenger Michael A. Loguercio Jr. are shown. Credit: Newsday File

The Brookhaven Republican party leader said Saturday that a Brooklyn state appeals court "overturned" a town council election in which GOP officials believed they had narrowly defeated a Democratic incumbent.

Town GOP chairman Jesse Garcia said the party plans to appeal a decision issued Friday by the Second Appellate Division, which said 13 of 16 disputed ballots should be counted. The court ruling did not declare a winner in the race between incumbent Connie Kepert and challenger Michael A. Loguercio Jr.

However, both sides said they believed the decision effectively awarded the contest to Kepert. Loguercio had held a four-vote lead in tallies before Friday's court ruling.

"They basically overturned the election," Garcia said in an interview Saturday. "Our lawyers aren't happy, we aren't happy. There are a lot of questions and curious decisions about the voter process and how it was used in this case."

He said GOP lawyers will appeal the ruling with the New York Court of Appeals, possibly this week.

Kepert, when reached by phone Saturday, said, "This is great, we're all very happy. We sought justice at the appellate division, and we got it. It's been rough on my staff not knowing what the outcome would be."

Kepert said she won by four votes.

Loguercio said any appeal would be left to town GOP leaders. "I am disappointed with the judges' decision," he said in an email statement Saturday.

If Kepert wins, Republicans would hold a 5-2 advantage on the town board.

The four-member appellate court panel had reviewed a Dec. 10 decision by State Supreme Court Justice Carol MacKenzie, who threw out 11 of 22 ballots challenged by attorneys for Kepert and Loguercio.

The appellate judges considered 16 of the 22 ballots and reversed seven of the decisions in which MacKenzie deemed ballots were invalid and upheld her decisions on two defective ballots. The candidates did not challenge two other decisions finding ballots were invalid.

Kepert was down 94 votes against Loguercio after the Nov. 5 election but made up ground with absentee votes and ballots from Democratic districts.

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