WATERTOWN — Mayoral candidates Cody J. Horbacz and Allison I. Crossman will be joining top vote-getter Jeffrey M. Smith on the ballot of the Nov. 5 election.
State Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky on Wednesday afternoon ruled from the bench that the councilman and Mrs. Crossman should move on to the November election despite their tie in the June 25 primary.
Judge McClusky determined that the intent of the city’s 1920 nonpartisan primary election law would have the two second-place candidates appear on the ballot in case of a tie.
Afterward, Mrs. Crossman said voters should have a choice in the election.
“It’s very exciting, very exciting and I’m very thankful,” she said. “And I’m very relieved, too.”
Councilman Horbacz agreed voters should have a voice for mayor, but also expressed concern that the matter ever came to court.
“That was a waste of time and taxpayers’ money,” he said.
He plans to immediately resume his campaign after it was interrupted by the disagreement between Jefferson County’s two election commissioners.
The issue stems from the mayoral race being nonpartisan, and the city’s law doesn’t have a provision in place for ties.
After the primary resulted in a tie, Democratic election commissioner Babette M. Hall and Republican commissioner Jude R. Seymour disagreed on how many candidates should appear on the ballot.
Ms. Hall concluded all three should move on, while Mr. Seymour wouldn’t certify the primary until a judge determined how many candidates should proceed.
It took a voter to get the matter before a judge.
Winslow Street resident Samuel S. Thomas, who wanted to make sure that three candidates end up on the ballot, filed an Article 78 proceeding in Supreme Court to resolve the impasse.
The issue revolves around a reading of the city nonpartisan election law, which says “the board of elections shall certify under the hand of its secretary or commissioners the names of the persons who received the largest and next largest number of votes for mayor.”
While he was the only one involved in the matter who took this stance, Mr. Seymour said afterward he still believes he did what was right.
“I can look in the mirror and know that I stood up to what I believed in,” he said.
Mrs. Crossman and Councilman Horbacz finished in a second-place tie with 597 votes each in the June 25 primary, while Mr. Smith had the most votes with 837. Cliff G. Olney III ran far behind with 365 votes. He’s mounting a write-in campaign.
Attorneys for the petitioners and for Ms. Hall and Mr. Seymour made oral arguments before the judge rendered his decision.
Earlier this week, County Attorney David J. Paulsen determined that the county would not pay for Mr. Seymour’s attorney, Joe Burns, Williamsville.
According to Mr. Paulsen, Mr. Seymour had advocated that only two candidates may be certified as winners of the primary.
According to a memo, Mr. Paulsen wrote that a public employee should act only within the scope of those duties and just count the votes.
Mr. Seymour retained his attorney because Mr. Paulsen represented Ms. Hall in the matter.