Board of Elections clears school board candidates facing petition objections

Apr 26, 2019

Several candidates running in the Buffalo Board of Education elections Tuesday, May 7 cleared a hurdle along the campaign trail Friday. The Erie County Board of Elections reviewed, and then cleared, the petitions of several candidates who faced objections over some of their collected signatures.

The challenges ranged from legitimacy of addresses, legibility of signatures and, in some cases, printed signatures which led objectors to suggest they were not legally permissible.

Buffalo School Board candidate Carolette Meadows (seated at right with back to camera) listens as members of the Erie County Board of Elections review questionable signatures in her petition. She was ultimately approved to run.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Austin Harig, who is a candidate, challenged some of the printed signatures on incumbent and rival Lou Petrucci's petition.

"Normally, those signatures are held to be invalid," he said. "On top of that, this petition had bad workmanship and, I would argue, even fraud."

The Board of Elections commissioners disagreed and Petrucci's petition was cleared. Harig's petition was challenged in return but he, too, was given the go-ahead to proceed.

Petrucci expressed regret that the status of his campaign had to go before the commissioners, telling reporters that in the past there had been an agreement among rivals not to challenge petitions, but he now looks forward to seeking re-election in the Park District.

His platform?

"I would say stability, experience, continuity of what's been going on. A lot of good things have been put in place," Petrucci replied. "My hope is over the next three years we'll be able to raise all the students, and the board and the district, to a higher level."

Two other candidates were cleared to remain on the ballot through an error by the Board of Elections. Both Carolette Meadows and Jeffrey Conrad faced objections to some of their signatures. But the problem was each received the other's notice of objection by mail, and neither were afforded the proper time to challenge any objections. Thus, both candidates' objections were thrown out.

Meadows is running as an at-large candidate.

"I hope that everybody gets out there and they vote," she said. "And I hope that people are tired of the (Buffalo Teachers Federation) controlling our school board and they go for people who put their own boots on the ground.

Conrad is also running for one of the three at-large seats. In addition to Conrad and Meadows, challengers for those seats include Tim Hartigan, Terrance Heard, Jack Kavanaugh, Desmond Nalls, Larry Scott and Ann Rivera.

Patricia Elliott-Patton and Kathy Evans-Brown are running for the East District, which is currently vacant, while incumbents running unopposed are Sharon M. Belton-Cottman (Ferry District), Hope Jay (North District), Jennifer Mecozzi (West District), and Paulette Woods (Central District).