Today is a sad day for those who believe in our system of Democracy, and trust that when you do the right thing, Justice prevails. Unfortunately, that was not the case today, and faced with this gross injustice, we voluntarily decided to withdraw our names from the election ballot in Airmont.
Airmont voters have been disenfranchised by our opponents, who relentlessly sought to damage us and our reputations with constant, baseless attacks. Unfortunately, we could not afford to continue the protracted legal battle that was required to remain on the ballot. It quickly became clear that our opponents were not interested in doing what is right, they merely wanted to create a circus. Although we have grown accustomed to such attacks, we refused to put our volunteers and supporters through that.
Our dedicated Preserve Airmont supporters collected 431 signatures on a petition to place us on the ballot for the March 19th election. Those petitions were submitted and accepted without objection. Only after the petitions were certified–after the deadline for simple objections had passed–we were suddenly served with papers by Nathan Bubel, Migdalia Pesante, and Brian Downey, alleging that our signatures were fraudulently obtained.
Their eleventh-hour assertions were ridiculous–all of the signatures collected by our candidates were done so in an honest and proper manner. If our opponents were truly interested in confirming the validity of the petitions, they would have raised their objections prior to the deadline, when any questions could have been asked and answered without incurring costly legal fees. But justice was not their goal.
Prior to our first court date on Monday 2/25, Bubel, Pesante, and Downey’s attorney attempted to call every person who signed our petition and confirm their signature, going so far as to send Former Bronx Republican Party Chairman Joseph “Jay” Savino, a Rockland County resident who pleaded guilty in November 2013 to two federal counts of bribery conspiracy and wire fraud, to go door-to-door in our Village, interrogating residents. They found no wrongdoing.
At Monday’s hearing, the Judge asked for the Board of Elections to give them a final count of names by Thursday, 2/28. In the days that followed, Bubel, Pesante, and Downey sent out hundreds of subpoenas, demanding that our innocent supporters show up in court today, in an attempt to further harass and intimidate.
This morning, the BOE said that we had well over the number of signatures needed to be on the ballot. Our attorney immediately requested that the Judge negate the proceedings, based upon the BOE’s determination that we had enough signatures, that the plaintiffs did not have standing or fact-based evidence to bring this action, and that this action is nothing more than a fishing expedition.
Nevertheless, Judge Eisenpress decided to proceed, and allow the plaintiff’s attorney to call as many witnesses as they wanted–meaning that hundreds of Village residents would be subjected to weeks of unnecessary harassment and aggravation, lost time at work, and our candidates would be subject to legal fees that were estimated to be tens of thousands of dollars.
Not wishing to put our supporters through these ludicrous interrogations, nor to put our families through the enormous expense of a frivolous and unnecessary legal battle, we made the decision to withdraw.
The actions of our opponents will likely set the stage for future elections, where people who want to get elected simply need to be backed with enough money to drag the other parties into court, until they run out of money and drop out. Airmont deserves so much better than this, but we refuse to indulge those who choose to engage in this type of vindictive political theater.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents of Airmont, and we thank you all for your support.
Stay tuned…this isn’t over.