Ogdensburg council ballot questioned

Ogdensburg City Hall

OGDENSBURG — The two men mounting a write-in campaign for mayor and City Council are raising questions about how the ballot for open City Council seats is set up.

Jeffery M. Skelly and John A. Rishe sent a letter to the city and to the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections questioning the City Council ballot.

There are four open seats. Three of those seats are for full terms. One is for the unexpired term of Shawn R. Shaver, who resigned after his residency was challenged.

City Councilors are elected at-large.

The three full term seats that are up for election are currently held by Timothy Davis, D; Jennifer Stevenson, D; and David G. Price, R. Each is running for re-election. Also running for those seats are challengers Steven M. Fisher, R.; and William B. Dillabough, R.

Michael B. Powers, R, was selected by City Council in March to fill Mr. Shaver’s seat until the election.

The unexpired term is on a separate ballot with only Mr. Powers listed as a candidate.

Mr. Rishe and Mr. Skelly said in their letter that this is contrary to the City Charter.

Mr. Rishe and Mr. Skelly contend that all four seats should be contested as one election.

Democratic Election Commissioner Jennie H. Bacon said that the ballot was set up by election law.

“Election law says it’s separate offices,” Ms. Bacon said.

If the City Charter differs, Ms. Bacon said, then they will take whatever steps necessary to correct the ballot.

The Board of Elections, she said, is waiting to hear from the city’s attorney.

Article III of the City Charter has separate sections on the regular election of city councilors and filling vacancies.

There are six councilors. Council terms are four years. Three councilor’s seats are up for election each odd numbered year. In the case of a vacancy, an appointment is made and the seat will be up for vote at the next general election with the winner just serving the remainder of the regular term. In the event of multiple vacancies, the candidate with the most votes would get the seat with the most time left to serve and so forth.

“The City Clerk and I have been in contact with the county elections commissioners and also with the city attorney,” Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy said.

This could be a topic of conversation at City Council’s next meeting on Aug. 19, Ms. Purdy said, although she could not be certain if a determination could be reached by then.

The city’s attorney, Andrew W. Silver, did not return a phone call.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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