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John Quirk ends Nassau legislature bid

New York's appellate court upheld a lower-court ruling

New York's appellate court upheld a lower-court ruling that knocked Libertarian John Quirk off the ballot for the Nassau Legislature in November. (Sept. 19, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Libertarian John Quirk has announced he is dropping his bid to run for Nassau County Legislature, after an Oyster Bay Republican successfully challenged his petition to be on the ballot.

Quirk, of Oyster Bay, said the cost of appealing his case in the Court of Appeals in Albany was too high and the chances of winning too slim.

"The experience has left me very disgusted with our democracy," Quirk said. "I was on the ballot, and for lack of a better word, Republicans stole it."

Tony Santino, spokesman for the Nassau County Republican Party, declined to comment.

Quirk gathered 1,672 signatures, more than the 1,106 needed to get on the ballot as an independent in the 18th Legislative District. But State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Diamond ruled Sept. 25 that only 1,105 of the signatures were valid, and on Wednesday the appellate court upheld that ruling.

Quirk said he was angry that the signatures of his friends and neighbors were ruled invalid and said the burden should have been on the challenger to prove they were not OK.

Signatures can be invalidated if they do not match the signature on the voter registration form, which can be decades old, or if the voter has moved, but has not notified the board of elections of the address change.

Richard LaMarca, Oyster Bay's director of labor management relations and a registered Republican, challenged the validity of Quirk's signatures. LaMarca did not return calls for comment.

Observers said Republicans feared Quirk would siphon votes from their candidate, Donald MacKenzie.

"They don't want anyone in their way," Quirk said. "It still amazes me how hard they came after me."

He said his goal had been to bring more attention to West Shore Road in Mill Neck, which he said was dangerous.

He said the battle to get on the ballot cost him about $2,000 and five vacation days. Quirk, a district superintendent for the New York City Department of Sanitation, last week endorsed MacKenzie's opponent, Democrat David Gugerty.

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