Pelham Manor village manager rejects petition to move village elections to November

A petition for a referendum on moving the Village of Pelham Manor’s annual elections from March to November was rejected because the pages weren’t numbered and 162 of the 532 signatures were invalid, according to a letter from Pelham Manor Village Manager John Pierpont, who signed the letter in his role as village clerk.

The petition needed 400 signatures to place the referendum on the ballot in November. Pierpont said that 370 were valid.

“Village Law Section 9-902 requires ‘petition shall be numbered consecutively beginning with number one at the foot of each sheet,'” said Pierpont’s letter to petition organizer Toby Marxuach-Gusciora. “The petition you submitted was not numbered. Because the petition is not in the form required by the statute, as a matter of law, I must, and hereby do, determine that the petition is not valid.”

According to the letter, the petition also did not contain the 400 valid signatures required by Village Law 9-912 for a legal demand to hold a referendum in the village on a date other than the next regular or special village election.

The petition only had 532 total signatures, not the 548 the petitioners stated, because the number of signatures at the bottom of each sheet was “inaccurate and overstated the actual number of entries,” said Pierpont.

Of the 532 names, 101 people could not be found on the most up-to-date register of electors provided by the Westchester County Board of Elections, the letter said. Pierpont listed problems that made other signatures invalid, including 13 entries that were printed and not signatures as required, six duplicates and four from non-residents of Pelham Manor. Furthermore, 37 signatures were “completely unlike the signatures in the district register of electors,” the letter said.

Marxuach-Gusciora said, “Pierpont refused to give (the petitions) back to me. He said ‘no’ unless I can state the law. There is a law, but it’s unclear. Our only choice is to redo it, turn in copies and number those pages, or thirdly, sue them in court, not him personally, but the Manor.”

“We thought about possibly trying to redo our petition. However, no matter what we do, we feel that John will find fault with it. We know John is going to pick through and find issues with it.”

Marxuach-Gusciora said that changing election day in Pelham Manor is not a partisan issue. “One Republican neighbor carried a petition for me. It is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s an everyone issue.”

No one was available earlier at Village Hall to provide further comment on the matter.