Judge says LaPietra stays


By Patsy Nicosia

Bob LaPietra stays.
That’s according to a decision by State Supreme Court Justice John Egan Jr. released Tuesday afternoon.
Mr. LaPietra couldn’t be reached and Deputy Mayor Sandy MacKay, who was representing the Village of Cobleskill in the challenge, didn’t want to comment until he had a chance to read the decision for himself.
The village had asked the court for a ruling on whether Mr. LaPietra was a village resident at the time he was elected trustee in November and whether he can legally serve.
In Tuesday’s decision, Judge Egan dismissed the village’s petition on the grounds that, under Election Law, the challenge wasn’t filed in time.
“Election Law imposes a very short time period in which to commence such a proceeding—it must be ‘instituted within fourteen days after the last day to file [a] petition, or within three business days…’ ” Judge Egan wrote.
Initially, Mr. MacKay and Mayor Mike Sellers asked the court for a preliminary injunction to: Keep Schoharie County Election Commissioners Lewis Wilson and Clifford Hay from certifying the results of the November 4 election, declare that Mr. LaPietra isn’t a resident of the village and so can’t serve, and rule that a vacancy exists for the position.
Under Election Law, Judge Egan notes, there is a procedure for challenging the nomination of a candidate for any public office, however there is a very small window for doing it.
“The reason for this short time limit is obvious—to provide for an expedited ruling so that, if the challenge is successful, a replacement candidate can be placed on the ballot.”
He continues: “There is no evidence…petitioners commenced a pre-election action challenging Mr. LaPietra’s residency…and that failure to act is a fatal defect…
“Petitioners have simply failed to bring a challenge to the nomination of Mr. LaPietra within the time allowed by Election Law…
“Petitioners had ample opportunity before the General Election to contest Mr. LaPietra’s residency…”
If the village wishes to continue to challenge Mr. LaPietra’s ability to serve, Judge Egan wrote, they can file a complaint with the state Attorney General.