Mayor-elect Charles R. Coolidge says that he will not challenge the results of last week's village election, which he won by two votes, but that he will appoint his defeated running mate as a village trustee in an effort to cancel the votes of people he says might not have had the right to vote.
Coolidge said Monday that he will appoint Robert Lowry to serve the year left in his trustee's term after he assumes the mayor's post in April.
"I feel the outcome of this election could have been different," he said, adding that he revised his plans and chose Lowry because he suspects that among the voters were non-residents or former residents whose names remained on the rolls.
"The reason I'm doing this is we know that people voted in this village election who did not live in the village," he said.
Village Clerk Cathy Stokes, who was in charge of the election, said everyone who voted lived in the village, including one man who was challenged as a suspected non-resident. "I stand by my election," she said. "It was fair and by the book. I bent over backwards."
At the polls, election judges had to question voters whose names were listed by Coolidge and his supporters in a formal challenge. Those people could not vote unless they signed an affidavit saying their legal residence was in the village, said Cattaraugus County Election Commissioner Julie L. Hamacher.
"If he believes there are people who are registered from addresses that aren't there or don't belong at that address, he can file a challenge report here at the Board of Elections," she said.
A recount verifying Coolidge's 147-145 victory was conducted Thursday by the Board of Elections at the request of Mayor John Burrell, who was unseated after three terms as both mayor and trustee.
Lowry, a former trustee and retired salesman, was Coolidge's running mate but gained only 136 votes, compared with 214 for Trustee Bob Brogcinski and 154 for Trustee Patra Lowes.
Coolidge said he intended to appoint Marten J. Dolen, a former town building inspector, merchant and library board member. But he said he now plans to appoint Lowry to his unexpired one-year term and then seek out non-residents, remove them from the rolls and give voters another opportunity to elect Lowry next March.
Coolidge said the Village Board will hold its reorganization meeting at 5:30 p.m. April 13.