Lawsuits have been filed in efforts to knock two Democratic candidates for county legislator off the primary ballot.
In the 3rd District, incumbent Frank N. Conde's nominating petitions have been challenged as fraudulent by Republican candidate Samuel P. Granieri. In the 4th District, incumbent Dennis F. Virtuoso is trying to disqualify one of his two Democratic primary opponents, Leo A. Alcuri.
The Conde case is slated for a hearing Aug. 4. The Virtuoso case is tentatively scheduled for Monday. State Supreme Court Justice Eugene M. Fahey is handling both cases.
In both cases, the petitions in question have been ruled valid by the Niagara County Board of Elections, which determined that each had sufficient valid signatures to qualify Conde and Alcuri for the ballot.
Granieri's attorney, Edward P. Perlman of Niagara Falls, said in court papers that Conde illegally signed witness statements on two petition sheets, attesting that he personally gathered the signatures on those sheets. In fact, the signatures were gathered by a friend of Conde's who works for the county Public Works Department.
Conde admitted the error. "I signed a petition that was circulated by someone else. It was an honest mistake," he said.
Conde, who is running for his ninth term, denied accusations by his opponents that he directed the petition carrier not to sign the witness statements.
Meanwhile, Virtuoso is trying to knock Alcuri off the ballot. His attorney, Mark M. Jasen, said Alcuri's petitions contained "numerous irregularities." Among them, he said, were a large number of signatures from persons who were not registered voters, not enrolled Democrats, or who had signed petitions for other candidates for the same office.
Also, Jasen said, the signatures on several of Alcuri's witness statements did not match the name of the person printed in as the petition carrier. Alcuri said the signatures in question are simply not very legible. He said the petitions were carried by his son. "That's the way he signs his name," Alcuri said.
Alcuri said on his cover sheet he filed 400 signatures, but in fact there were about 560, Jasen said. That is a disqualifying error, he said. The required number in the 4th District is 191.
Alcuri, a retired union official, described the suit as "frivolous."