Court ruling allows Brookhaven ballots to be counted
An unresolved Brookhaven Town council race neared conclusion Wednesday when the state's highest court rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling on more than a dozen contested ballots.
The decision by the state Court of Appeals in Albany effectively allows Suffolk County election officials to count the remaining 13 votes in the Nov. 5 race between Democrat Connie Kepert and Republican Michael Loguercio Jr. It was unclear when election officials would count the votes and certify the election.
The court, without comment, rejected Loguercio's appeal of a state court decision ordering the Suffolk Board of Elections to count the remaining votes, which had been contested by Loguercio and Kepert over issues such as questionable signatures and extraneous ballot markings.
Republicans and Democrats have said they believed Kepert would win the race by two votes if the disputed ballots were counted. Kepert, who had held the 4th District seat since 2005, left the town board when her term expired on Dec. 31.
Loguercio, a Longwood school board member from Ridge, said he would run again for the council seat. "As soon as I got the phone call, my campaign for two years from now started right away," he said.
Kepert complained at a recent town board meeting that the board planned to conduct business while her former council seat was vacant.
Her attorney, Jared A. Kasschau, said Wednesday that he and Kepert were "pleased that the constituents of C.D. 4 will finally have closure."
Brookhaven GOP chairman Jesse Garcia said he was "disappointed that basically the Court of Appeals has stripped this election away from Loguercio."
Loguercio led by 94 votes in unofficial tallies released after polls closed on Nov. 5. His lead narrowed to 11 votes when absentee ballots were counted about a week later, then dropped to four votes after a Dec. 10 ruling on contested ballots by State Supreme Court Justice Carol MacKenzie.
Kepert took the lead on Dec. 20 when the New York State Second Appellate Division in Brooklyn overturned parts of MacKenzie's ruling.
Republicans and Conservatives hold five seats on the seven-member Brookhaven Town Board.
The Court of Appeals decision is also expected to allow election officials to certify the re-election of Suffolk 6th District Court Judge Chris Ann Kelley.
With Deon J. Hampton