Sheriff Candidate Back on Ballot

Putnam judge rules petition valid

By Chip Rowe

A Putnam County judge overruled objections filed against the nominating petition of Andrew DeStefano, a Republican candidate for Putnam County sheriff, who will now challenge incumbent Don Smith in a Sept. 12 primary.

Andrew DeStefano

The winner will face Robert Langley Jr., the Democratic candidate, in the Nov. 7 general election.

Judge Paul Marx ruled on Aug. 16 that the Board of Elections had improperly tossed DeStefano’s petition based on objections filed by Jim Borkowski, chairman of the Putnam County Democratic Committee.

DeStefano needed 1,000 valid signatures; he submitted 1,302. Borkowski objected to dozens of pages because the witnesses had not filled in their town or county. (Asked why the Democrats would not want Smith to face a primary opponent, Borkowski said his objection was about preserving the integrity of the election process.)

DeStefano argued that the lack of a town or county was a technicality and called the board’s decision “an abuse of discretion.” Judge Marx agreed that the lack of a town or county did not invalidate the pages. Although he upheld 194 of 195 objections to individual signers, the decision left DeStefano with 1,108 signatures, enough to get him on the ballot.

4 Responses to "Sheriff Candidate Back on Ballot"

  1. Patty Villanova   August 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    The fact that more than 1,000 registered Republican voters can be disenfranchised on a technicality speaks volumes about how screwed up the system is. Furthermore, it turns out that Mr. DeStefano’s biggest opposition came from right within his own party. In a shameless display of despicable cronyism, the Putnam GOP chose to endorse and fight for ethically challenged incumbent, Sheriff Smith. This is the same sheriff whose admissions of being less than truthful in the Levy/Hossu matter have put Putnam County taxpayers on the line for millions of dollars in lawsuit judgments.

    Smith should never have been allowed to run again. The party honchos should have had some integrity, even if Smith is a member of the Club, and told him his political career was over. Of course, given the cast of characters who run the Putnam County GOP, that was never going to happen. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to ram through his nomination, including trying to remove Smith’s lone opponent from the primary ballot. They don’t want to take any chances that the voters might wake up and smell the stench of corruption that emanates from Carmel these days.

    One other thing, according to Mr. DeStefano’s Facebook page, Putnam County has launched an appeal to try and overturn the judge’s decision, allowing him back on the ballot. Just when you thought they couldn’t sink any lower…

    • John M. Zarcone Jr.   August 21, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      I represented Mr. DeStefano in the appeal of the challenge to his nominating petition. I am proud to say I have never worked a case of this nature but we prevailed in the initial action. I still consider Don Smith a friend but his actions cannot be condoned. The sheriff cannot lead by example, even quietly, with “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

      True to form, the county GOP did not want to give Mr. DeStefano his rightful place on the primary ballot and went to extremes, even collusion. How sad for taxpayers and voters, whether you are Republican, Democrat and any other party affiliation, to see who is controlling our county government.

      What started out as a “slam dunk” for the Board of Elections backfired because of a brilliant and exquisite decision by Putnam County Supreme Court Judge Paul I. Marx, who thought outside the box. The county handed the case off to outside counsel. So even with a slam-dunk case, not one attorney in the Putnam County Department of Law can handle it? Even when the county claims to have no money?

  2. Ann Fanizzi   August 19, 2017 at 4:50 am

    It’s all about power. How does a minority party without significant political presence in Putnam County gain a foothold, no matter how tenuous? Even if there appears to be the odious smell of collusion, they have joined forces with the party in power to register their challenge to the only candidate with any legitimate claim to the office of sheriff on the Republican line: Anthony DeStefano. Never mind that in the process Republican voters are left with the distasteful choice of filling in the circle for an admitted liar, defamer and abuser of police power, just so long as their candidate, a former officer and now beekeeper, has a ghost of a chance of wresting the office from the corrupt machine housed not at 40 Gleneida but on Old Route 6. A prized foothold, no matter how gained. That is how politics is played.

  3. Andew DeStefano   August 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    I would like to thank the almost 1,200 registered Republicans who took the time to sign my petition to become the next sheriff of Putnam County. Many of you share our common frustration at the complete lack of urgency by the current sheriff regarding this drug crisis, which started on his watch.

    Our high schools in any of the Putnam towns are infested with narcotics and embedded with local drug dealers. What’s worse, there is no plan to clean up any of this. The only plan of action instituted by the incumbent was to put forth a monumental effort to prevent me from being on the Republican primary ballot on Sept 12. That effort has failed, much like everything else.

    As a New York City police captain, my narcotics, community police, and command experience is by far the most proven of either of the other candidates, both of whom come from the same failed program. My name on the ballot has given the parents of Putnam County renewed hope for the future. There is a reason why both the Democrats and Republicans teamed up in a failed attempt to keep my name off the ballot.

    If you are tired of the status quo, and the same people in the same jobs decade after decade, with conditions just getting worse, I ask for your support on Sept. 12. I have a daughter in the 10th grade at Carmel High School, and for me the stakes cannot be higher, personally and professionally.