Last night, city council candidates in the city of Plattsburgh met in a League of Women Voters’ forum at city hall. The ward hopefuls were allowed to pose a question to their opponents. In several instances, Republican and Independent candidates took their challengers to task for what they say is an alarming increase in absentee ballot filings.
While the 12 of 14 candidates from each of the 6 wards took questions on economic development and a vision for the city’s future, candidates in two wards brought up an issue that has been percolating, and the undercurrents had been felt at the mayoral race earlier in the week. It first arose when Ward 1 Republican candidate Mike Drew turned to Democrat Michael Kelley with his one allowed question.
Kelley maintains innocence of any knowledge or action.
As Kelly responded, Drew held up an impromptu sign penned on a manila folder with an up arrow and 514%. Later, as the three contenders in the Ward 2 race debated, Independent-Plattsburgh Matters Party candidate Maureen Carlo returned to the issue.
Democrat Rachelle Armstrong dismissed the issue.
But Republican Bill Ferris painted a more nefarious picture.
Republicans are pointing fingers at Democrats and the Working Families Party.
Working Families Party Upstate Political Director Jesse James Lenney was in the audience, and when approached following the forum regarding accusations that the party is behind the irregularities in the absentee ballots, he was evasive.
During his closing statements, Republican Mike Drew noted that Board of Elections rules regarding absentee ballots note that each person must apply for himself or herself, it is a felony to make a false statement in an application, or to attempt to cast or help anyone cast an illegal ballot.