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Village Court candidate loses ruling

A candidate's bid to monopolize the ballot for Kenmore village justice was dealt another blow with a court ruling this week.

In dismissing a lawsuit filed by Kevin T. Stocker, State Supreme Court Justice Gerald J. Whalen cited the suit's failure to meet Civil Practice Laws & Rules.

Stocker sought to have Scott F. Riordan removed from the Democratic and Independence lines on the Nov. 4 ballot, alleging state election law wasn't followed during party caucuses last month. Objections that Stocker filed with the Erie County Board of Elections were rejected by commissioners.

But Stocker isn't done fighting yet.

"I will ask the court to revisit the order to dismiss," Stocker said Tuesday.

During the political caucuses, Stocker, a registered Republican, won the endorsements of the Republican and Conservative parties. Beforehand, he filed petitions to run on an independent line -- Tax Payers 1st -- ensuring his name would be on the ballot.

Riordan, a registered Democrat, won the endorsements of the Democratic and Independence parties.

The two are vying for the year remaining on the term of Mark J. Gruber, who was elected to Tonawanda Town Court last year.

In his objection to the Board of Elections, Stocker alleged the Independence Party caucus started before the scheduled time, barring participants who would have voted for him. He contested the Democratic Party caucus on the grounds that Democratic caucus chairman Patrick J. Bannister, who works as a conciliator for the state, and his wife, Tracey, an acting village justice who's running for State Supreme Court, are barred from political activity.

Elections commissioners Ralph M. Mohr and Dennis E. Ward, who voted to qualify the nominations, were among several parties named in the lawsuit. They, in turn, sought dismissal of Stocker's action.

"I thought the judge's original decision was correct," Bannister, the Democratic caucus chairman, said Tuesday. "It's kind of ridiculous to keep this protracted out like this."

"People are going to be given a choice as to whom to elect," Bannister said.

Why isn't Stocker satisfied with appearing on three lines?

"I feel the Independence endorsement should have [gone] to me," he said Tuesday, reiterating his claims about the proceeding starting early and blocking additional participants.

He added: "I feel I am trying to protect the American electoral process spelled out by our legislators and not the process of political insiders trying to [control] endorsements through ploys instead of letting the residents decide."


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