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Politics and Government

Perez Williams has enough signatures for primary ballot, some Democrats disappointed

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Juanita Perez Williams during her run for mayor of Syracuse.

Hearing officers with the New York State Board of Elections have ruled that Democratic congressional candidate Juanita Perez Williams has enough signatures, by a slim margin, to be on the primary ballot. This comes after more than half of the signatures collected by Perez Williams in the 24th congressional district race were invalidated by the board of elections.

Democrats nominated Dana Balter as their candidate. But Perez Williams entered the race, with the backing of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, less the two weeks before the petitions were due. Onondaga County Democratic Committee member Diane Dwire has led the effort by local Democrats to challenge the signatures collected by Perez Williams.

“Ms. Perez Williams said she was not going to run," Dwire said. "We were really quite concerned when the DCCC came in pushing this issue. We always need to work together, but there needs to be respect for the local decisions.”

Dwire said two of the biggest problems with Perez Williams’ petitions were some of the people who signed them were not Democrats and they filled in the wrong town or city where they lived.

“In Onondaga County, their mailing address is not always the town in which they live in," Dwire said. "We found that most of those came from the canvassers that came from out of town that were collecting signatures for Juanita Perez Williams. They just weren’t familiar. So that invalidates a signature if they put the wrong town.”

Dwire said she was very disappointed by the ruling, because so many volunteers worked so hard to review signatures.

"We did file last week the paperwork to preserve our right to go forward, to appeal in court if we decide it's appropriate to do that," Dwire said. "We would wind up taking a few days to really decide what we wanted to do and what was the best way to go forward."

Perez Williams released a statement calling any potential lawsuit frivolous and a waste of taxpayer money. Commissioners of the state board of elections will likely uphold the hearing officers' decision at a meeting Thursday. 

Below is Perez Williams' full statement.

“The Board of Elections has reaffirmed what I’ve been saying for weeks - the work of dozens of volunteers and the voices of thousands of voters will be honored and my name will be on the ballot in the primary. If Dana Balter and John Katko want to continue working together to fight the state of New York and overturn the will of thousands of voters, that’s a real shame. While they are wasting taxpayer money on frivolous lawsuits, I will be out talking with New Yorkers about the issues that really matter in their lives – finding a job, paying for prescription drugs, and sending their kids to college.”