State Court Clears Bernstein's Petitions In Greenburgh Supervisor Bid

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Hartsdale's Bob Bernstein will challenge incumbent Greenburgh Town Supervisor in a September 10 Democratic Party primary.
Hartsdale's Bob Bernstein will challenge incumbent Greenburgh Town Supervisor in a September 10 Democratic Party primary. Photo Credit: Bob Bernstein

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - A New York State Supreme Court justice dismissed a challenge to candidate Bob Bernstein's designating petition filings for the Democratic Party nomination Wednesday, clearing him to run against Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, who made the challenge.

Feiner alleged that Bernstein should be removed from the ballot on grounds of that the challenger's petitions used the name “Bob.” State election law allows nicknames such as “Bob” and a formal opinion of the state board of elections states using the name “Bob” for “Robert” is acceptable.
Bernstein, who is the Democratic Party Committee's candidate for the fall election, will run against Feiner in the Sept. 10 Democratic Primary.
“(Wednesday's) ruling means Greenburgh Democrats will have a choice on September 10, and an opportunity to discuss the real issues plaguing the Town under Paul’s 22-year reign of error,” Bernstein said. Paul’s constant mismanagement of the Town has cost taxpayers millions of dollars and its time voters had a chance to say ‘enough is enough.’”

New York State election law requires candidates to collect signatures from at least 1,000 registered Democrats and file them with the Board of Elections in White Plains.

Bernstein's submitted a total of 1,529 signatures in support of its endorsed candidates, while Feiner filed 4,000 petitions with the Elections Board on July 10.

According to Bernstein's campaign, the court’s action followed two and a half days of testimony in which there was never any evidence introduced to show fraud of any kind by Bernstein.

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Comments (3)

I won't be able to vote in the primary, not being a registered democrat, but I will certainly vote for you in November, Mr. Bernstein!!!!!

More from the have your cake and eat it too department.

"If my campaign team had challenged all the Democrats on the petition we might have won the case. But, we did not want to knock off the ballot the candidacies.."
-- Paul Feiner.

But Feiner's campaign did challenge all the Democrats on the petition; there was only one petition.
What Feiner calls "Bernstein's campaign" and "Bernstein's petition" was in fact not just Bernstein's but the Democratic Party's official petition which included all the Democratic Party endorsed candidates and the petition was carried by the followers of all those endorsed by the Party. ONE petition for Bernstein, Juettner, Sheehan, Povella AND Ms. Fantuzzi who is running for Town Clerk. Likewise, let's not forget to mention that "Feiner's challenge" really is "Feiner and Beville's challenge" since it was co-signed by his running mate, Judith Beville. What we have is the two Democratic Party rejects, Feinerand Beville running on their own. Yes, as incumbents, Feiner and Beville were able to gather an impressive number of signatures but then they had all those hours free to do so paid for by taxpayers to collect signatures while they neglected their jobs to campaign for re-election. Elective office means how they assumed their positions; not their choice whether or not to perform them.

Working on Town business were the two of them? How can anyone explain nothing going on in Town during June, July and August? Cancelled work sessions, limited agendas, sensitive matters postponed until later in the year (WestHELP lease, Frank's RFP, Reassessment RFP)...

So what Feiner and Beville did was to challenge all the candidates on the petition including their own team, Town Council members Sheehan and Juettner and Receiver of Taxes Povella. If the grievances re the petition are valid and "villainous" acts as Feiner and Beville would like to attribute to Bernstein alone, then there is a shared responsibility among all endorsed candidates while the agents for this outcome were the Democratic party stalwarts (worker bees), the District Leaders. Why don't Feiner and Beville instead accuse these residents as it was the District Leaders who carried the petitions, encouraged the signatures and then became responsible for the signatures when certifying the petition as gatherers?

But all of this pales when it is Feiner who has publicly stated that he supports the idea of competition as a desirable aspect of Democracy, gas stations and sports facilities. If Feiner and Beville's submission of 4000 signatures to the opposition's 1500 by itself was not encouragement enough, why did both feel it so crucial to go the extra step? Certainly Feiner's own record as a person who follows the book and observes the letter of the law is not so unblemished as to be the trail guide to throwing stones. And one hopes that Feiner and Beville's decision to visit the Courts for relief is a trip paid, not by taxpayers, but by Feiner's bulging campaign war chest.

As for Feiner and Beville's own collection of signatures, having so many is itself insurance against the likelihood of a successful challenge but this reality does not eliminate the likelihood that their own "rogue" petition contains similar mistakes and "transgressions". So why would anyone sincere in running for office bother to travel this road when the only productive goal is to win the Primary and not to gain the temporary satisfaction that the process of gathering signatures (by any candidate) is haphazard at best and not really vital to the end result. The very notion of barring any candidates from running in a Primary is itself non-democratic and serves only to limit the field to the better organized and funded citizens --- all non-serious contenders would be eliminated during the Primary anyway. Still the current system is the system which apparently is too threatening for Feiner and Beville to tolerate -- hence their decision to go to Court only AFTER LOSING their similar appeal to the Board of Elections.

So, what it comes down to is how Feiner really views having competition for his job. It turns out that he fears it, not welcoming it. And as I wrote above, Feiner seeks to have his cake and eat it too. However, Feiner's preference is to withhold it from residents so as to limit competition: more akin to Marie Antoinette concern for her residents while Bernstein attempts to deliver bread, both wheat and gluten free varieties.

Hal Samis

The petition challenge was not frivolous. We felt that Mr.Bernstein did not file the minimum number of signatures required to get on the ballot.
The Westchester County Board of Elections agreed with our teams arguments that over 20% of the signatures collected by the Bernstein camp were invalid. They knocked out 337 signatures out of just over 1500 signatures submitted. Some of the signatures were from voters who live outside of Greenburgh. Others from non Democrats. Candidates need 1,000 signatures of Democrats who live in Greenburgh to get on the ballot.
Before my campaign filed the objections we noticed that Mr. Bernstein signed his own petition twice. Nominating petitions can only be signed once by voters. In addition some signatures on the nominating petitions looked like they were signed by the same person-in the same handwriting.
I do not believe that Bernstein's campaign filed 1,000 valid signatures of registered Greenburgh democrats. There were many irregularities in the petition sheets that were submitted -the court should have reviewed each of the specific objections. We lost the challenge on a technicality. I think that if the court had reviewed each of the specific objections we raised that they would have concluded that Mr.Bernstein filed fewer than 1,000 valid signatures.
If my campaign team had challenged all the Democrats on the petition we might have won the case. But, we did not want to knock off the ballot the candidacies of Francis Sheehan, Diana Juettner, Town Board members and Anne Povella, Receiver of Taxes, town officials who currently serve in office. We lost the case on a technicality and will move forward.
The court made the decision. I'm looking forward to the upcoming campaign. I like competition and am pleased voters will be able to contrast my approach to governing against my challengers.