Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica and Trustee Chuck Lester React to Being Kicked-off Ballot
The Mayor of Ilion and its outspoken village trustee are livid over what they're calling "bullying" after they were kicked-off the ballot in the upcoming village elections due to petition technicalities.
Mayor Brian Lamica and Trustee Chuck Lester both spoke out to WIBX recently expressing disgust over the fact that the Herkimer County Board of Elections has voided their petitions to run for reelection after dates and election information were left off their petitions carrying some 143 signatures.
"Unfortunately, there were some errors on our part, that has prevented us from being on the ballot" said Lamica. "It does go along with the constant bullying that Chuck and I have endured for the last 2 years on social media where 2 individuals were given an opportunity to retire (from the fire department), they chose to retire and regards to one of them, the harassment continues," said Lamica.
Lamica is referencing an undisclosed incident that resulted in 3 firefighters being disciplined, including the chief, and deputy chief who were placed on administrative leave while an investigation by police was conducted. Details of the accusations made against the firefighters were never disclosed because Mayor Lamica said the issue was a personnel matter. As a result, Fire Chief Tom Pedersen retired from the force in June and Deputy Fire Chief Mike Conover retired in August. Another firefighter was dismissed. Now, Conover is running for one of two vacant village trustee seats, along with former Mayor John Stevens, who is currently a Herkimer County Legislator. Village resident Kari Allen is also running with Conover and Stephens for the 2nd open trustee seat.
On April 20th, the Board of Elections ruled on objections to petitions from Lamica and Lester, made by Stevens, and deemed the errors "fatal" which removed the incumbents from the ballot as Republicans. Lamica and Lester still have about 3 weeks to collect signatures to be placed on the ballot as independents for the upcoming June election. As a result, there will not be a Republican primary before the election.
"I didn't even look at their petitions," said Lester. "I didn't even care about their petitions," he said. "Let's have a fair and open election." Lester said because they were removed from the ballot, the people who signed their petitions will not get the opportunity to vote for them. Lester also called on Mike Conover to release the details of the investigation into him so that the people of Ilion know the details. Lester also hinted that once he is not a village trustee (if he loses or doesn't run), he will no longer be required to remain silent about the details of the incident.
"I'm not obligated if I'm no longer a village trustee or village official to be quiet on what I know about the investigation," Lester said. "Maybe it sounds like sour grapes or something like that but people should know what they're voting for," he said.
Village of Ilion elections will be held on June 21.
Listen to Mayor Brian Lamica's interview on WIBX below.