The Nassau County Board of Elections rejected the petitions of the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party led by mayoral candidate Leonard Katz last week, citing petitions with the wrong election date and changes in the election after the petition was signed.
Katz acknowledged the errors, but blamed the wrong date on Village Clerk-Treasurer Patricia O’Byrne, who he said gave him the wrong date “in early January.”
“Our party members are extremely unhappy and angry at this outcome. I suspect foul plan here,” Katz said.
But Katz acknowledged he did not have any proof of O’Byrne giving him incorrect information.
Katz said the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party will continue its campaign against the United Residents Party on a write-in basis.
“We want the community to know that despite this setback, we are still here, and our goals remain the same,” Katz said. “If we are elected, we will work with residents, developers, and store owners to make this village what it once was.”
O’Byrne angrily denied she had provided Katz with the wrong date. She said she initially corrected Katz on the date of the election.
“When Leonard came into Village Hall and first announced he was running, he was going to run an advertisement with the election date as March 19 and I had to correct him,” O’Byrne said. “I’m pretty offended by all of this. I have done this for 28 years, and I would never give someone the wrong date of an election.”
Responding to Katz’s claim, Great Neck Plaza Village Attorney Richard Gabriele said Sunday Katz was fully to blame for filing election petitions with the wrong date of the election, leading to their disqualification.
Gabriele said notice of the election date’s change from Tuesday, March 17, to Wednesday, March 18, was published in a local weekly newspaper in November 2019, posted in “numerous conspicuous locations with the village” and on the village website.
“So the entire public, including Mr. Katz and any other candidates seeking to run, had official notice of the election date, given by numerous methods, long in advance of the election and long in advance of the date to get petitions signed,” Gabriele said in an email to Blank Slate Media.
He went on to say that Katz personally “signed, attested to and submitted petitions” which listed the correct date during a period in which the candidate said he was unaware of the correct date.
Katz is running with Siu Long Au (Alex), and Robert Farajollah on the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party line on a platform calling for downtown revitalization and greater transparency.
Village Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen is running for mayor, and Trustee Pam Marksheid and Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Michael Deluccia for trustee on the United Residents Party line. Rosen, who has served since 1985, is seeking to replace Mayor Jean Celender, who chose not to run for re-election.
Rosen defended O’Byrne.
“[O’Byrne] has been doing this for a long time, and has done an excellent job at it,” Rosen said. “A legal notice was posted in at least one local paper in November, so it’s not like this was a big secret.”
In his letter, Gabriele said, there were numerous examples where petitions of Mr. Katz sworn to and witnesses on the same date contained the correct election date on some sheets as early as Jan. 4.
This year’s election date was moved from a Tuesday — when village elections are normally held — to Wednesday, March 18 due to St. Patricks Day occurring on Tuesday, March 17.
Gabriele presented petitions from the Revive Great Neck Plaza Party signed on Jan. 4. The petitions show an “8” written over the originally printed “9” on the election date.
“These documents demonstrate that the incorrect date on Mr. Katz’s petitions resulted from carelessness and lack of attention on his part, not from any misinformation given by the Village Clerk,” Gabriele wrote.
According to the Nassau Board of Elections, once a petition is signed, the date or any other general information about the petition cannot be changed.
Katz admitted he amended the election date on the petitions “sometime in late January” when he claims he first found out the correct election date from O’Byrne. Katz continued to maintain that O’Bryrne gave him the wrong date of the election after Gabriele’s email was shared with him.
“I will take fault for trying to change the petition, I was unaware of the board of elections’ strict rules,” Katz said. “I didn’t know it had to be something that was so exact and could not be changed after the signatures.”
“All of the above show that the errors in Mr. Katz’s petitions resulted from carelessness and/or a blatant disregard for setting forth a correct election date in his petitions,” Gabriele concluded. “His efforts now to deflect blame from himself by making the totally unsubstantiated claim that he received the wrong information from the Village Clerk is ludicrous in light of the above documentation.”
Updates have been made to this article correcting the spelling of Richard Gabriele’s last name.