The Democratic candidates for New Castle Town Board are looking to get their Republican opponents thrown off an independent party line for this year’s election asserting that the challengers are misleading voters.
The move, on behalf of current councilwoman and supervisor candidate Ivy Pool, incumbent Councilman Jeremy Saland and running mate Jason Lichtenthal, came after the Democrats questioned the validity of many of the 618 signatures collected for Jim Smith, Lauren Levin and Sean Maraynes. Smith is opposing Pool in the supervisor’s race while Levin and Maraynes are competing for town council.
Following the late May filing of the petition to create the Team New Castle line and the subsequent challenge, Board of Election commissioners determined on June 14 that 456 signatures were still valid, 38 more than was needed to secure the extra line on the ballot. Most of the challenges were related to issues of legibility as well as allegations of duplicate signatures.
The two sides will now go to state Supreme Court in White Plains on July 16 after papers were served last Tuesday.
Smith said he and his running mates were surprised by their opponents’ decision to take the next step and litigate the matter.
“Call me naïve, but I really thought that the election, the campaign, was going to be an all-out battle of ideas,” Smith said. “I have some good ones; my opponent has some good ones and the voters will decide that based on what they hear.”
Pool said she and her slate are contesting what they deem are 52 duplicate signatures. Since the number in question could potentially decide whether the Republicans are tossed from the Team New Castle line, they decided to follow through in court, she said.
But they also want to call out their opponents for attempting to obscure their record by claiming they are moderate, nonpartisan candidates, Pool said. She said the candidates are longtime Republicans, with Smith having made three donations to President Donald Trump’s campaign since the October 2016 “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, one to the Republican National Committee and another to the campaign of John Faso, a former GOP congressman, in 2018.
“So any idea that he’s not affiliated with any political party, the record does not reflect that,” Pool said. “I think it’s important for somebody who is running for town supervisor to be honest with the residents of this town.”
Smith said he has donated to every presidential inauguration since President Bill Clinton, and also made a couple of small donations to Trump, hoping he would become more presidential.
He said that in 2008 he made larger donations to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and that Trump’s performance makes him “no friend of mine and I’m no supporter of his.”
“I think I donated more to Hillary Clinton for president then any other candidate in my life,” Smith said.
Levin also refuted charges that their motivation was to hide their Republican credentials, saying it is a disappointing ploy to try and gain an advantage.
Getting a second line was essential in hopes of negating the inherent advantage of the Democrats appearing on multiple lines, said Levin. The Democrats have also been endorsed by the Working Families and Independence parties.
Pool said were cross-endorsements, a very different scenario then what the Republicans have tried to do.
Levin, who mentioned that if the two slates were polled on many national issues they would have similar views, said she expected better from their opponents.
“Because of the three lines that they have on the ballot we decided to create a line that represented us and just give us more leverage, candidly,” said Levin. “Just something to say this is what we care about, we care about the Town of New Castle.”
Saland said he and his running mates are eager to debate the local issues with their opposition, particularly because their campaign and record “is based in the substance and accomplishments that brought us to where we are today.”
He and Pool bristled at the attempts made by the town’s Republican Committee and their candidates to compare the Democratic Committee to a Tammany Hall-type political machine. Therefore, claims that they are sticking to town issues is inaccurate, Saland said.
“Out of the gate, the Republicans went on the offensive, attacking the volunteer moms and dads who make up the local Democratic Committee and pushed the farcical yarn of the committee’s Tammany Hall-like control over the Town Board and community,” Saland said.
Smith said the Democrats’ tactic is a likely turnoff to most of the voting public for a town election.
“I just wish that we could be better than that,” he said. “What it ends up doing, it frustrates voters, it gets them focused on political issues, which they hate, and not on (town) issues.”
He also mentioned that during the petition signing period he crossed paths with Pool at the Chappaqua train station. She assured him in an informal conversation there would be no challenges, Smith said.
Pool denied ever making that statement or anything that can be construed that way. She called Smith’s claim “make believe” and “abundantly untrue.”
“We’re not trying to brand them as Trumpian disciples, we’re wanting them to be honest and forthright about their affiliation with the Republican Party,” Pool said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/