Greenport village board votes to reinstate seven candidates who were removed from the ballot due to paperwork issues
The Greenport Village board Thursday night voted 5-0 to put seven candidates for the village’s board of trustees back on the ballot after they were removed earlier due to paperwork issues.
The board also voted to extend the deadline to Monday to send in their acceptance papers.
Mayor George Hubbard, while denying there had been any wrongdoing in the removal, made the motion to reinstate the candidates on the ballot and accept “whatever repercussions that happen legally with that.”
With Greenport’s election just weeks away, seven of the nine candidates for the village’s board of trustees were removed — leaving only the incumbents, the mayor and deputy mayor. The election is set for March 21.
The reason given for their removal was that they hadn't filed proper certificates of acceptance with the village clerk’s office as New York State Election Law Section 6-144 requires.
Before the meeting, some residents gathered in front of Village Hall with signs that read “Restore the Ballot” and “Restore the Trust.”
Poppy Johnson, who has lived in the village for more than 40 years and is a mother of trustee candidate Lily Dougherty-Johnson, told Newsday she had never seen a situation like this before in Greenport.
“Village elections are sometimes a little funny, but this one takes the cake,” said Johnson.
Richard Vandenburgh, a mayoral candidate, said before the meeting he was hoping that with a strong turnout," the board would be convinced to let the candidates back on the ballot.
“There’s been a disenchantment of the 900 to 1,000 voters in the village of Greenport if you take away the right to choose between multiple candidates for the open positions," Vandenburgh said. “So we’re hoping we’re going to be heard.”
More than 125 people filled Village Hall for the standing-room only meeting, with many residents waiting to hear from the board.
Candidates and residents who spoke were upset and urged the candidates be restored to the ballot.
Liz Gillooly, a Southold trustee, criticized the board for not putting the election issue at the top of the agenda for the meeting. “Democracy dies in darkness, and everybody in this room can be thought of as little lights, and we will shine bright,” Gillooly said.
When Gillooly questioned the board about the letter sent to the candidates from the village clerk, most of the board said they had found it unclear.
Greenport trustee Mary Bess Phillips said she was “extremely upset” at the situation and said the board should either remove the village clerk from overseeing the election process or fire her, as some residents had demanded.
Village attorney Joe Prokop read a statement saying all actions taken by the village on the election issue “were done based on the relevant provisions of the New York State Law.” Prokop said he also received guidance from election law experts as well as legal counsel from the New York Council of Mayors.
After the meeting, mayor candidate Kevin Stuessi told Newsday while he and the other candidates still had questions about what happened, he was happy that the election can resume in a normal manner.
"It's been an interesting 24 hours, and so long as the village mayor and trustees hold to what they said and make certain that we are on the ballot and everything is done legally, we're very happy. And we're going to get back out there on the streets and start talking to people and get back to work on telling people why we're going to be great for the village," Stuessi said.