WHEATFIELD – Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nicholas J. Forster tangled with his party’s Wheatfield chairwoman last week.
Town Chairwoman Shirley J. Joy and Judy A. Blake, a secretary in Town Court, are running for town council in the Democratic primary, despite Forster’s support for a slate of Republicans who oppose the incumbent Republicans.
Joy said last week that she and others don’t think that Thomas J. Larson, the Republican whom Forster is backing for supervisor, ever was formally authorized to run on the Democratic line.
Joy said Larson’s name was not read at the July 15 county Democratic Committee meeting, but he was included on the list sent to the county Board of Elections of non-Democrats authorized to run on the Democratic line.
“He was never authorized, but I think it was an oversight,” Joy said.
Forster “never read the name,” she said.
Would the vote have come out differently if Larson’s name had been read?
The authorization included council candidates Michael A. Kislack and Karen McKernan, two other Wheatfield Republicans who are challenging the endorsed GOP slate. Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe has called them “puppets” of former Republican Supervisor Timothy E. Demler, who lost to Cliffe in 2009 and 2011.
Election Law allows three days for anyone to challenge authorizations, but no one did, Democratic county Election Commissioner Lora A. Allen said. Larson’s name is on the notarized list, so he will be on the ballot, Allen said.
Joy charged that Forster conducted the authorization vote in an odd fashion, asking for the no votes first, allegedly so he could produce enough yes votes to be sure to win.
Forster denied it.
“I’ve never asked for the ‘no’ votes before the ‘yes’ votes in my life,” he said. “All I know is, it passed.”
Larson said he wasn’t at the meeting.
“We ran our petitions, we had the numbers we needed, we submitted them to the Board of Elections, and we were told we had the line,” Larson said.
Joy claimed the authorization for Kislack and McKernan passed by two votes.
Forster declined to release the meeting minutes, but he said of Joy, “She opposed it, and the Wheatfield contingent opposed it, but it wasn’t much more.”
Going on the offensive, Forster said the performance of the Wheatfield Democrats, who hold no town offices despite having an enrollment edge over the Republicans, is unacceptable.
“Go back two years. They ran the janitor against Bob Cliffe,” Forster said, referring to Donald J. Wallace, who was described at the time as a town maintenance and technology worker. He received 24 percent of the vote for supervisor, while a Demler write-in effort polled 17 percent.
“They haven’t won a race since the ’90s. It’s too cozy for me,” Forster said of the Wheatfield Democrats. He accused Joy and Blake of trying to block other Democrats from getting on the ballot and then planning to run a low-key campaign to ease the path to victory for the endorsed GOP ticket – Cliffe, Councilman Arthur W. Gerbec and first-time candidate Randy W. Retzlaff.
“We’re serious candidates,” Joy said. “We’re knocking on doors. Yet Demler’s friends are running.”
How would she would get along with the Republicans if she and Blake were elected?
“We’re not going to be obstructionists,” Joy said. “I’m running on checks and balances and more transparency.”