by Randy Pellis
OSWEGO, April 17, 2019 — The county Board of Elections dealt Fulton mayoral hopeful Ethan Parkhurst a serious blow Monday ruling both his Republican and Conservative petitions invalid.
Parkhurst intends to continue his campaign as an independent, and to do so he must circulate new petitions. He has until May 28 to submit the signatures of at least 161 registered voters (regardless of party) who have not already signed a designating petition.
Stating that denying him the opportunity to primary for a major party line in Fulton’s mayoral election “takes the voices of the people away,” Parkhust said, “So, at the end of the day, I still want them to have that voice, and I’ll stand by my promise, and I will be on that ballot in November because the people deserve it.”
Parkhurst lost the right to primary for the Republican nomination by 2 signatures.
He submitted 97, according to Board of Elections Republican Commissioner Peggy Bickford. Ten signatures were disallowed, leaving Parkhurst with 87 valid signatures. He needed 89.
According to Commissioner Bickford, Parkhurst missed qualifying for the Conservative primary by even less. He needed 5 signatures. He had 26. Of those, 22 were ruled invalid, leaving him with 4 valid signatures. He missed by one.
Of the 10 Republican signatures ruled invalid, 5 were ruled out on a very quirky technicality. Two pages of signatures were witnessed by 2 people. Only one witness is allowed. Bickford asked the state for guidance on how to rule.
“The state said they’d never seen anything like that before,” she said. The state told her she could accept the signatures obtained by one witness or the other but not both. On one sheet, 6 signatures were witnessed by a notary, and 4 signatures were witnessed by Parkhurst. Bickford was allowed to accept the higher number, and so, 6 were accepted and 4 disallowed. The same double-witness scenario caused problems for the other sheet on which one signature was disallowed.
Bickford said Parkhurst “didn’t realize he couldn’t finish off a page that way (with 2 witnesses). He could have just started another page (separating the pages into those with only the signatures each had witnessed) and got his signatures, but he didn’t.”
The Conservative petitions presented a more severe problem. The 22 invalid signatures were ruled to have been obtained by someone who is not a registered member of the Conservative Party. Only the 4 signatures witnessed by a notary were ruled valid. A notary does not have to be a member of the party for which the petitions are circulated, according to Bickford. This left Parkhurst one signature short.
Parkhurst contends all his Conservative signatures were ruled invalid. Either way, he will not be running a Conservative primary against Deana Michaels, whose petitions were not challenged.
Deana Michaels was also successful in obtaining the Republican line on the ballot. Her petitions were not challenged on that line either.
Parkhurst’s Republican and Conservative petitions were both challenged by Michaels.
“What I didn’t see coming was my Conservative witness being thrown out,” Parkhurst said. “That was a curveball I didn’t see.”
“But,” he said, “at the end of the day, I’m going to be on that ballot in November, and I feel I relate to these people because we know struggle. We know how it is to live in the situations we’re living in.
“We keep segregating people,” he said, “separating them in party lines, or even in everyday life. I believe in unity. I don’t think we need to be segregating people based on party anymore, especially in this little city of Fulton, we need to work together to fix this.
“We need people to stand up for what we believe in,” he said, “and we need people to stand up for our hometown.”
As of this morning, neither Deana Michaels, nor Fulton’s Democratic candidate for mayor, Dan Farfaglia, could be reached for comment.