The Examiner

McCarthy Accuses Mt. Pleasant GOP of Co-opting Nominating Process

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Councilman Denis McCarthy blasted Mount Pleasant Republican leaders last week, accusing them of manipulating the process at the nominating convention in an attempt to get him off the board.

First-term Mount Pleasant Councilman Denis McCarthy angrily charged last week that he was victimized by the town Republican Committee’s apparent manipulation of the nominating process after he was bypassed for the party endorsement for town board.

McCarthy leveled harsh accusations against the committee for its “last-minute creation” of a screening committee to recommend candidates for town board for the party’s May 17 nominating convention.

Last week Councilwoman Laurie Smalley and former councilman Thomas Sialiano were endorsed over McCarthy. Four years ago, the committee nominated McCarthy over Sialiano.

In a letter written last Friday to Republican Committee Chairman Christopher McClure, McCarthy unleashed a torrent of allegations stating there was a conflict of interest once McClure’s screening committee consisted of the party’s executive committee and the addition of his law partner, Councilman Mark Rubeo, in an apparent “attempt to control the outcome of the nomination process.”

McCarthy stated that members of the Republican committee were never informed of the change in procedures and that it violated the party’s rules because candidates and district leaders weren’t properly noticed about the new screening committee.

McCarthy said he could not accept the outcome and would challenge Smalley and Sialiano in a September primary.

“In addition to co-opting the democratic process of open and honest elections for candidates who will not subscribe to tactics of coercion, intimidation or threats, the Mount Pleasant Town Republican Committee took a giant leap backwards on Wednesday exhibiting unbridled cronyism selecting candidates of yore who will ‘go along and get along’ with one’s Napoleonic agenda,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy also charged that there were several potential irregularities during the tallying of votes, such as moving the counting of ballots away from poll watchers to the other side of a table; McClure taking over the counting of ballots from the secretary; and completing the final counting of the ballots in secret.

McClure defended the nomination process, saying that Smalley and Sialiano were the top two vote recipients and that each received the required majority of at least 43 total votes. He added that the voting was conducted by written confidential ballot.

The chairman declined to further engage in a debate regarding McCarthy’s allegations.

“It was a fair process,” McClure said. “Each candidate had an equal and fair opportunity to present their qualifications during the meeting and prior to the meeting.”

Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi, who was also nominated for re-election, said McCarthy’s criticisms of the Republican Committee were off-base and denounced the councilman for “taking this low road due to the committee’s decision by a 2-1 vote not to reappoint him.”

“How unfortunate to hear these unwarranted comments by Denis McCarthy,” Fulgenzi said. “The process followed Wednesday evening by the Republican committee was open, transparent and followed protocol.”

Fulgenzi said McCarthy failed to come close to the votes needed to secure the nomination. He has the right to challenge in a primary if he chooses to do that.

McCarthy mentioned that he believes some town Republican leaders wanted him off the town board after he recently had run-ins relating to several town issues with other board members, including Fulgenzi.

He said he was told by Fulgenzi that he’ll “be sorry” after he challenged the board to properly notice the vacancy for receiver of taxes. McCarthy also charged he was severely criticized for voting against raising the tax cap for the 2017 budget when a late change to the budget was introduced.

Fulgenzi responded that McCarthy repeatedly stated that the town should not appoint an existing employee that he doesn’t know. Fulgenzi said he found it troubling that a board member would be unaware of a town employee, especially when the employee is dedicated and hard working.

“We were advised by counsel that the appointment of a qualified existing employee to fill out an expiring term in the receiver’s office was within the board’s right and that employee must run for that position in November,” he said.

Fulgenzi disputed the alleged threat McCarthy mentioned. It occurred when he told the councilman he has a right to vote how he wants but that he will be sorry when there is negative public reaction.

McCarthy explained that he is “actually relieved” to be able to campaign freely and independently.

“I look forward to a debate on the issues – and challenge my opponents to an independent forum, to let the public decide upon the leadership and future vision of our town,” he said.

Nearly obscured in last week’s controversy was Sialiano’s re-emergence into town politics. Sialiano, 58, teaches business management and international business at the EF Academy in town and served for 23 years on the architectural review board, planning board and town board.

He said he “has an excellent working and professional relationship with town board members, managers and employees.”

Sialiano said he hoped McCarthy would “do the right thing” and continue to support the Republican ticket as he had four years ago when the committee failed to endorse him.

McClure said he was pleased with the party’s ticket for November.

“The Republican Town Committee is excited to have such a qualified slate of candidates and is confident that each of our candidates will be victorious in the upcoming elections,” he said. “We also look forward to working with and supporting both County Legislator Margaret Cunzio and County Executive Rob Astorino in their bids for re-election.”

Meanwhile, Democrat Nathaniel Smith said he was bowing out of the race one week after announcing he was running because he realizes he would be unable to sustain his service at this point in his life.

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