State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill has dismissed a petition by Democratic Ulster County Legislator David Donaldson to knock his Republican challenger, John Quigley, off the November ballot. Donaldson, minority leader of the legislature, contended that Quigley, 21, a college student in Connecticut until May 10, did not live at 60 Orchard St. in the legislative district but rather at his parents’ home in the Town of Ulster at the time he circulated nominating petitions during June. Quigley, son of Town of Ulster Supervisor Jim Quigley, was in China from May 18 to June 2.
Donaldson, who said he didn’t plan to appeal, complained that the judge “really didn’t follow the law.” Donaldson did not testify at the two-hour hearing. Quigley was on the stand for almost half an hour.
Donaldson said he filed his complaint after visiting the home of what had been a registered Democrat in mid-June “to find no one living there.” Quigley testified that the house was being renovated at the time but that he had moved in some of his furniture.
Judge Cahill ruled that Quigley had through documentation and by testimony in court “manifested an intent, coupled with physical presence without an aura of sham, to demonstrate that his listed address on the designating petitions complies with the requirement of election law.”
Republican county elections commissioner Thomas Turco accepted Quigley’s petitions, which had been rejected by Democratic elections commissioner Victor Work. Work, as is the practice of the board of elections when residency is challenged, sent Deputy Sheriff Thomas Lattin to 60 Orchard St., a three-bedroom house owned by Quigley’s mother, Joan Kearney Quigley, on July 17 to determine whether Quigley was living there. Lattin testified in court last Thursday that “an old guy with a bald head” (separately identified as Gerald Kearney, 48, a Quigley relative whom he encountered at the site) told him Quigley did not live there. Judge Cahill dismissed Lattin’s testimony as hearsay since Kearney had not been called as a witness.
Donaldson, who is seeking his 10th term in legislative office, was represented by Christopher Ragucci, who serves as counsel to the legislature’s Democratic minority. Donaldson said he paid legal fees and court costs. Quigley was represented by elections attorney James Walsh of Saratoga. The board of elections was represented by assistant county attorney Clinton Johnson.
Quigley will be the candidate of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties. He is seeking yet another line. “This decision reinforces my commitment to this race,” Quigley said, adding that he will circulate petitions to secure the 128 signatures required to appear on an independent line. Any registered voter who has not signed another petition can sign those petitions. Deadline for filing is Aug. 13.
Donaldson has also been nominated by the Working Families Party.
Because Donaldson filed an “opportunity to ballot” petition, the two will face off in a Sept. 10 primary for the Independence Party nomination. Under election law, Quigley will appear on the primary ballot at the party’s official nominee while Donaldson supporters will have to write in his name. There are 237 registered Independence Party members in the district.
According to the board of elections, Democrats outnumber Republican 1,743-800 in the district, which comprises city wards three, six and nine. Conservatives outnumber Working Families Party members 104-52. Non-enrolled voters number 1,648.