By Kathryn G. Menu
On Friday, the Suffolk County Board of Elections threw out objections made by Sag Harbor Board of Trustees candidate Ryan Horn against candidates Robby Stein and Bruce Stafford’s nominating petitions, ensuring a three-way battle for two seats on the board during the June 15 election.
Horn, in paperwork filed with the board of elections over a week ago, objected to 84 of Stafford’s 124 signatures and 45 of Stein’s 70 signatures. He cited incorrect or absent dates, incorrect spelling, lack of street designations like “road” or “lane,” missing house numbers, misspelled road names, improperly dated witness statements and other details on Stein and Stafford’s petitions in his objection, which could have resulted in Stein and Stafford’s names being removed from the ballot.
In a special session on Friday, Commissioner Anita S. Katz and Commissioner Cathy L. Richter Geier deemed the objections “insufficient” to remove Stafford and Stein’s names from the ballot and certified both their petitions as valid.
On Sunday, in an e-mail, Horn said he would not appeal the board of election’s decision.
“My only goal was to have the county review the petitions and clarify the standard,” he said. “Unfortunately, ‘objections’ are the only way to do that.”
“When I pointed out all their mistakes, the other candidates got defensive and lashed out making it personal,” continued Horn. “One candidate even went around telling people he was removed from the ballot. Politics has enough of that already and I don’t think it’s part of a constructive dialogue. I always thought this would be a contested race and wanted to win talking about ways to stop the tax increase, create housing opportunities, make it easier for businesses, and address environmental concerns. In other words, the issues.”
“I am glad they decided to let everyone vote for the next members of the board,” said Stein of the decision. “I was surprised that someone would contest [the signatures] of people who he knows. These are names I am sure were familiar to him, streets he knows. These were minor details – it is not like we had dead people on the rolls or non-residents. They were technicalities.”
“My biggest concern is when you have to work in coordination with people on a board, when you are continually going to pick apart minutia, you will lose sight of the issues, and things have to get done. It becomes questionable if you are really listening or if you are pushing an agenda.”
“I am happy [the board of elections] had confidence that the people of Sag Harbor, who signed our petitions, were being honest,” said Stafford of Monday. “I am happy for the village taxpayers who signed my petition. I didn’t mind him accusing me, but don’t take it out on village taxpayers.”
Stafford said one result of Horn’s actions has been that he and Stein have developed a closer relationship on the election trail.
“I think he is a great guy and has done a lot for the village,” said Stafford of Stein. “We are all village residents and what is best for the village is what should happen.”
“I am just glad the people ultimately get to choose, so that is a good thing,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, who has publicly supported Stein’s re-election to the board and Stafford’s candidacy.
In other election news, the Coalition of Neighbors for the Preservation of Sag Harbor (CONPOSH) has announced it will host a Candidates Forum, moderated by The Sag Harbor Express editor Bryan Boyhan, on Sunday, June 6 at 3 p.m. in the downstairs of the First Presbyterian (Old Whalers) Church in Sag Harbor.