As local election officials continue to review petition signatures submitted by Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster, her citywide slate of candidates and City Council office seekers, the parties involved in the Bridgeport Board of Education litigation will meet again Friday morning to work out legal procedures in the contested state takeover of city schools.
Foster needs about 2100 certified signatures from registered city Democrats, representing five percent of party electors, to challenge Mayor Bill Finch in the September 13 Democratic primary. Democratic Registrar of Voters Sandi Ayala has been examining petition sheets for more than a week. Ayala lost a day due to a court hearing in the BOE case on Tuesday. The Foster camp had submitted some 3500 signatures, some that are not valid. Solid petitions generally are those secured at a place of residence. When political operatives scatter about at shopping centers, etc. for signatures this lends itself to stinkers. Reviewing signatures is tedious work, matching up a petition sheet of signatures against a voter file. It doesn’t matter if some signatures don’t connect with the voter file on hand as long as the ultimate signature threshold is met. Thus, the Foster camp submitted a reserve as a precaution against invalid signatures.
Have mayoral candidates in the past failed to submit the required signatures? Yup. Happened in 2003, when Carl Horton who was cash rich ended up signature poor. The Foster camp says it’s confident they have submitted enough verifiable signatures, but word is a solid portion of the signatures cannot be verified. Is there a hard and fast rule for signature validation? There is nuance to placing a signature in a good column or bad, according to some area elections officials.
Could you imagine if Ayala doesn’t qualify Foster’s signatures for the ballot? (That scream you just heard came from the Foster camp.) (That snicker you just heard came from the Finch camp. We can’t be that lucky, can we?) It would set off another legal firestorm with charges and counter charges.
Anyhoo, the BOE case is back in Waterbury court on Friday. Here’s what Judge Agati ordered on Tuesday in the following cases:
CV11 601-0994 Pereira and Simmons case;
CV11-601-1014 Farrar-James, Davis and Baraka case;
CV11 601-1098 Walsh, Coviello, Pipkin;
The following order is entered in the above matter:
The Registrar of Voters of the City of Bridgeport shall continue through 8/19/11 to follow the Court’s 8/8/11 Order to accept any valid petitions submitted and shall forward the petitions to the Town Clerk who shall not proceed until further order of the Court and in keeping with any deadline imposed by Statute.
In accordance with discussions of counsel on 8/16/11, verified amended complaints shall be filed and served by 5 PM on 8/17/11 and answers to these amended complaints shall be filed and served by 5PM on 8/18/11.
The Parties shall return to Courtroom 3C, 400 Grand Street, by 9:30 am on 8/19/11 with any additional facts to be stipulated or otherwise made part of the record as required by Practice Book Section 73-1.
Signed by Judge Agati.