Independence Party petitions challenged

Tell It To The Judge

(Left) David Gruber is looking for a spot on the East Hampton Town ballot. (Right) Manny Vilar will run for the open town board seat as a Republican.

Who — if anyone — runs for East Hampton Town Board on the Independence Party line is in the hands of a Suffolk County Supreme Court judge.

Last week, as expected, the Suffolk County Board of Elections certified David Gruber as the party’s nominee, though a number of signatures on his petitions were challenged.

That proceeding, though, was considered a formality because BOE commissioners, one Democrat and one Republican, review the technical aspects of the petition without necessarily examining the signatures for possible forgery.

Judge Carol MacKenzie presided over the first hearing on August 16. “We had our first hearing. Lots of procedural stuff. Several witnesses testified that they didn’t sign. Nobody from the party came, despite being subpoenaed, although Gruber was there in the afternoon,” related Amos Goodman, the East Hampton Town Republican leader.

Elaine Jones, the East Hampton Independence Party leader, said she was in he hospital but will attend the next session, on August 24.

The issue is whether Gruber — and only Gruber — submitted faulty signatures. If 11 or more are deemed to be forged, Gruber will be removed from the ballot.

Jones said Goodman also submitted fraudulent signatures on the Republican Party petitions he helped gather for Manny Vilar. But she acknowledged that since she didn’t file a formal objection, Vilar will undoubtedly be the Republican Party candidate. That is not to say she won’t take some kind of action. “I could go to the district attorney,” she said, adding she believed some of the Republican signatures had been forged.

As for the Independence Party, only two scenarios exist. Judge MacKenzie will decide Gruber’s petitions are valid and he will be on the ballot, or she will disallow enough signatures to invalidate his petitions and derail his candidacy. In that case, the Independence Party ballot will be blank.

Gruber, though, has another option. He is mounting a primary bid against Davis Lys for the Democratic Party line. Lys, an incumbent town board member, is filling the seat vacated by Peter van Scoyoc, who was elected town supervisor.

There is only one year left on the unfulfilled term, which means the seat will be open again come Election Day 2019. In an interesting twist, Lys, though running on the Democratic Party line, is a registered Republican. He intends to switch his registration after the election.

Judge MacKenzie’s decision will be posted here as soon as it available.