BY MICHAEL RICONDA
New City – County executive candidate Legislator Ed Day has initiated court proceedings against Conservative Party opportunity-to-ballot candidate Simon Leschinsky, alleging petitioning irregularities.
Proceedings began on July 29 and continued through the week with a presentation of evidence by Day’s attorney Byron C. McKim to the Honorable Gerald B. Loehr. The defense is represented by attorneys William A. Gerard, Michael Specht and Thomas Semetti. Though Day initially brought the request to the Board of Elections, his claim was denied, prompting him to bring the case before a judge.
“We have common names and common irregularities in [his] petitions,” Day explained. “We feel that it is imperative that we look very deeply at these irregularities to ensure that the process is being done in a proper way.”
According to McKim, the suit was filed to remove signatures from Leschinsky’s candidacy petition, which Day argued were invalid due to a notary’s failure to follow proper procedure in swearing in the parties.
Leschinsky’s counsel claimed Day cannot demonstrate that Leschinsky himself was connected to the petitions. “This is a guy who’s notarized documents for all sorts of candidates,” Gerard explained.
In addition, the defense alleged that while serving subpoenas, several of Day’s process servers acted improperly by representing themselves as Sheriff’s Department employees and intimidating the people they served, a move which Gerard claimed may constitute criminal conduct. No evidence was presented regarding the intimidation at the Tuesday meeting.
Day strongly denied the claims of intimidation, stating people voluntarily accepted subpoenas and further calling such assertions of improper conduct “absurd.” “We have volunteers that include some law enforcement-not all-who happen to be delivering subpoenas and witness fees,” Day explained. “People are duty-bound to accept them. It is not a matter of intimidation.”
Day’s interactions with the Conservative Party this year hit a snag when Chairman Ed Lettre opted to throw their support behind their own candidate, Tom Sullivan, rather than endorsing Day.
With the snub, Day became embroiled in already acrimonious internal strife within Conservative ranks. In response to the selection of Sullivan, Conservative Party member Sam Naemit, who leads an outspoken contingency within the party, opted to support Leschinsky rather than Sullivan. Leschinsky’s opportunity-to-ballot would leave the Conservative Party line vulnerable to other challenges, as well.
Naemit, who attended the proceedings on July 30, told the Times that he felt Day’s targeting of Leschinsky was just about political strategy. “They’re playing a political game,” Naemit said. “He continues to hurt everybody because he wants to win.”
Naemit is known for his attempt to oust current Conservative Party Chairman Ed Lettre, a conflict which became heated when the 2012 party convention was scheduled on Yom Kippur. An observant Jew, Naemit was unable to attend the vote and explained he continues to view the scheduling as an unacceptable attempt to disenfranchise his sizable Jewish constituency.