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CHARGES FLY ON PETITIONS FOR ELECTION

Allegations of irregularities in filing petitions and other election improprieties have surfaced in the Sloan village election.

Village Election Commissioner Christine Dodds has rejected a formal challenge to petitions submitted by Joseph Farris, an independent trustee candidate.

Dodds, who also serves as village clerk and treasurer, said the challenge was based on Farris' failure to use the state's recommended petition form. Dodds accepted the petitions as valid. "He had everything he needed," she said, "but not the same form."

The objection, filed by former Village Justice Henry Gabryszak, was made more than 24 hours after the petitions were filed, missing the deadline for such challenges.

"The objection is null and void," Dodds said.

Gabryszak, representing the People's Choice Party, submitted the petitions of candidates Dean Lach, Diane Rodomski and Jerome Imiola.

The controversy arose when Farris submitted his petitions. Farris reportedly submitted his petitions Feb. 12 to the village's deputy clerk. But according to election law, only the village election commissioner can accept the petitions. The petitions were returned to Farris, who resubmitted them at 2 p.m. Feb. 13 to Dodds, the proper recipient.

Lach, a current board member and a mayoral candidate, said a People's Choice Party member had inquired at about 11:30 a.m. Feb. 13 about any other petitions. At that time, Farris had yet to return to submit his petitions.

The party member was told no other petitions had been filed but that an independent candidate was expected to do so. An objection was made Feb. 16, long after the deadline had expired. Lach maintains the Farris petitions are improper, carry two filing dates and should be thrown out.

"They're more worried about who's running instead of the issues at hand," said Farris, who is running for village office for the first time.

A political feud, meanwhile, escalated this week between Lach and Mayor Kenneth Pokorski of the New Era Party with Lach saying he nearly lost his position on the March 20 ballot.

After filing their petitions, each candidate has three days to sign an acceptance certificate, ensuring a ballot position. A mail notice sent by the village clerk's office did not arrive on time for five of the seven candidates, who then had to be notified by phone to sign the statements before the end of business last Friday.

Though all the candidates signed the statement and will be on the ballot, Lach questioned the clerk's intentions. "I can only assume . . . she withheld the letters until Friday," the trustee said. Lach received his written notice Saturday.

Dodds countered that two of the candidates did receive their notification on time. She said the notices were mailed Feb. 14.

"I gave them every opportunity to sign (the statement)," Dodds said. "Why would I call all the candidates if I didn't want someone to be on the ballot? They're trying to make me look bad. I did nothing wrong."

In a related matter, the People's Choice Party candidates formally declined to accept an invitation to debate the New Era Party candidates.

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