2 failed candidates eye lawsuit

Jessica Ablamsky

Two failed write-in candidates and a wealthy supporter are pursuing a lawsuit against the Village of Kings Point after the state Attorney General declined to investigate the June 21 election that saw trustees Pete Aaron and Ron Horowitz re-elected.

“I think the best that we can hope for is another election, a fair election, a fair process,” said former write-in candidate Mojgan Sasson. “That’s all I would like to see. Whoever wins, whoever the people choose, is fine.”

Great Neck lawyer Norman Kaplan said his clients, local businessmen Curtis Katz and write-in candidates Sasson and David Schifter, are seeking witnesses who saw Village of Kings Point Trustee David Harounian allegedly electioneering inside Village Hall during the election.

Sasson said no affidavits have yet been signed.

“It wasn’t correct, if it was done,” she said. “I did not in fact witness it. I only have anecdotal evidence from people who have told me.”

Kaplan previously filed a lawsuit against the village on behalf of Sasson, Schifter, and Katz. Katz had been critical of trustees for suing to stop Chabad of Great Neck from demolishing a local house to build a temple and school.

The lawsuit against the Village of Kings Point alleged illegal electioneering by a trustee, improper disqualification of ballots, that some poll workers incorrectly explained the write-in ballot procedure, and that voters’ constitutional rights were violated by the lack of clear instruction.

The lawsuit resulted in an agreement by the Village of Kings Point to preserve ballots from the previous election for one year, and to make them available pending a freedom of information act request.

Kaplan also filed a complaint with state Attorney General , which requested an investigation into the election and a new election. The request was denied in a letter from the attorney general’s office.

“The public integrity bureau has reviewed your complaint and has determined that your complaint does not warrant action by this office at this time,” according to the letter. “You may pursue any private remedies available to you.”

Kaplan said the response made possible a private lawsuit, which would seek a new election.

“I hope they won’t be wasting the public’s money with spurious litigation,” said Village of Kings Point attorney Stephen Limmer.

Kaplan said he would only file suit if the evidence warrants further action.

Incumbents were challenged late in the last election by Sasson, a real estate attorney, and cardiologist David Schifter. Both were prompted to run by a controversial 9.8 percent hike in village taxes, approved by trustees March 31.

Village of Kings Point Mayor Michael Kalnick said expenses rose 13 percent due to state mandates such as health insurance and pensions, but trustees were able to cut spending without reducing services.

Katz papered the village with anti-incumbent material, while two men handed out flyers in support of Sasson and Schifter.

The final vote was Aaron 222, Horowitz 226, Sasson 58, Schifter 29. Disqualified votes totaled 130.

If every vote had been spelled correctly and otherwise qualified, poll workers said a write-in candidate could have received 217 votes.

Polls were open 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Early afternoon saw a steady stream of voters, with many asking poll workers how to vote for a write-in candidate.

Kings Point used two old-fashioned mechanical voting booths. To vote for a write-in candidate, voters had to lift a panel with one hand and with the other write with a pencil attached to the booth. Spaces provided were one larger box and one smaller box.

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Jessica Ablamsky

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