Village resident and former New Paltz village trustee Vici Danskin asked that the Village Board take “immediate action to relieve Jason West of the position of mayor,” after board members reviewed a file that she provided them alleging that the mayor committed voter fraud. Mayor West admitted to living outside of the village temporarily, while he tries to find an apartment within the village after his lease was up this past January. The mayor still signed petitions for Don Kerr and Rebecca Rotzler as a village resident and then voted in this May’s village elections: actions that Danskin believe constituted voter fraud, as only those who reside in the village can vote in village elections. Danskin said West’s actions showed a “disregard for the process for public business and the critical importance of valid elections.”
As she read the letter, West said, “Not true,” and continued to sign vouchers. When she concluded, he said that he would not respond to “ridiculous hyperbole,” and later told the New Paltz Times, “My vote was not challenged. This is an obviously politically motivated attack, as she [Danskin] singled out candidates she did not support to have their petitions challenged.”
Danskin presented the Village Board with correspondence from Ulster County Board of Elections Commissioners Thomas Turco and Vic Work which confirmed that West no longer lived in the village.
Trustee Sally Rhoads asked that the board take a “five-minute break” to contact its attorney in regard to Danskin’s letter and file. “This is very shocking,” Rhoads said.
“Living outside of the village and illegally voting are two very different things,” said trustee Brian Kimbiz.
Village clerk Katie Doyle-Bunker said that she had received a response to Rhoad’s request via text from village attorney Joe Eriole, and read it out loud to the board members and the public. She had texted the attorney to ask if he could come to the meeting or call in via phone regarding Rhoads’ request, and had explained that Danskin wanted the Village Board to remove him from office. The attorney responded that he was too far away to get to the meeting, but that the “mayor could only be removed as a result of a court action and pursuant to a court determination — unless he chooses to step down.”
“I choose not to step down. Now can we go on with our meeting?” said West.
As to whether or not the Village Board would seek to take court action, Rhoads said that she did not know. “We haven’t met to discuss this issue, but I’m sure we will. We have two members of the board whose terms are now over and two new members of the board. But this issue raises serious concern.”
Rhoads went on to say that it’s a “new wrinkle for sure,” and that she has a “philosophical view where I don’t believe any elected position is an entitlement. You are elected to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the office you were elected to, and that the public put their trust in you to do and you are to follow the same rules as everyone else.”