Nov 21, 2007


Caroline board may appoint 2 to seats

By Tim Ashmore

Journal Staff


CAROLINE — The four-person, Democrat-controlled Caroline Town Board will definitely be filling one open board seat next week and, with a winner yet to be declared in one 2007 race, could be called upon to fill another.


A special town board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27 where the town board will appoint a successor for Nelly Farnum, who resigned from the board in early October.


The second available seat is in limbo while Republican Pete Hoyt and Democrat Steve Nicholson await a decision from the Tompkins County Board of Elections on two contested ballots and a third ballot that was sent to the New York State Supreme Court.


As it stands, the vote is tied at 589 votes apiece. If the vote ends in a tie, Caroline town law says an appointment would be made by the town board.


At the town board's Tuesday, Nov. 13 meeting, board member-elect Toby McDonald suggested the board fill the open seats with Hoyt and Nicholson.


Town Supervisor Don Barber put forth, as a resolution, McDonald's proposal to select the loser in the Hoyt-Nicholson race for Farnum's open seat. The town board was split 2-2 with Barber and councilman Dominic Frongillo in favor or the resolution and board members Ed Cope and Tim Sealy against it.


There are eight residents who put their names in for the appointment to Farnum's seat, including Hoyt and Nicholson.


A second resolution put forth on Nov. 13 that called for the town board to appoint someone for Farnum's seat that evening also failed with a 2-2 vote.


Frongillo said the Nov. 13 meeting led to productive discussion among the town board and community members.


“It was a really great discussion,” he said. “We had a lot of community members that were there. They joined in and gave their ideas and a lot of them were really great ideas. Some of the candidates said it was the best town meeting they'd have been to. Now the board has to sift through all of that input and make a decision.”


There are three remaining votes in Caroline that could break the tie. Two are in the hands of Board of Elections Commissioners Stephen DeWitt and Elizabeth Cree.


One of those is an unopened envelope marked from the Democratic Party that is postmarked after Nov. 5, which is the latest absentee ballots can be postmarked. The second is a vote for Hoyt with an extraneous mark on the ballot that the Caroline Democrats are protesting.


The third vote was sent to the courts. The ballot has a mark for Hoyt that is circled and scribbled on and around. Hoyt said it's either someone who scratched out their vote after marking him down or somebody who emphatically voted for him circling their “X” over and over. There is no second vote on that line.


“This did not involve erroneous voting machines, it didn't involve hanging chads — none of that,” Frank Proto, R-Caroline and Danby, said to the Tompkins County Legislature Tuesday. “We don't need electronic voting machines, we don't' need a paper trail, what it is, is we needed more people to vote. We had a 62 percent turnout in Caroline which is extremely high and we are down to a dead tie.”


Proto went on to encourage young people to vote using the tie as an example of the importance of voting.


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