Friday, February 6, 2009

Star-Stuck Pol Knocked Out of Council Ring by John Lauinger - NY Daily News

Read original...

SOME PEOPLE try to soften the blow of defeat with a fatalistic adage: It just wasn't in the stars.

But it was in the stars for City Council hopeful Frank Gulluscio - and that was the problem.

The Howard Beach Democrat was yanked from the ballot in the Feb. 24 special election because his petitions featured a star and were printed on green paper - similar to those of the Democratic Party - a no-no in the nonpartisan contest, officials said.

Board of Elections commissioners ruled Tuesday that Gulluscio's petitions violated election law because the "five-point star is the recognized symbol of the Democratic Party," said board spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez-Rivera.

Gulluscio, a Democratic district leader running in the 32nd Council District, also had 1,436 signatures tossed out, leaving him with 69 fewer than the 1,098 needed to qualify to be on the ballot.

Gulluscio vowed to appeal in a hearing scheduled Monday in Queens Supreme Court. He blasted fellow candidate Geraldine Chapey, who hired former state senator and election lawyer Marty Connor to challenge petitions.

"It is a shame that other candidates need to use cheap tricks to win elections," Gulluscio said.

Connor, who Chapey had paid $3,500 as of Jan. 15, also knocked retired Police Department lieutenant Glenn DiResto off the 32nd District ballot.

The name of DiResto's party, "Families First," was deemed to violate election law because it shares a word in common with the name of the existing Working Families Party.

DiResto accused Chapey of engaging in electoral "shenanigans," and said he would also appeal at Monday's court hearing.

"She looks at me as a threat because of my lifelong public service," DiResto said of Chapey, adding that he chose the name because government needs "to keep families in our city."

Chapey's campaign defended its actions.

"If an individual wants to seek office, they have to have a competent campaign," spokesman James Wu said.

Sam Dibernardo, a candidate in the 32nd District, and Angel Del Villar, a candidate in the 21st District, also were disqualified for not having sufficient signatures.

The board's rulings leave four candidates in the 32nd District field: Eric Ulrich, Mike Ricatto, Lew Simon and Chapey.

At Monday's hearing, Ulrich is set to make an unusual challenge to Ricatto's petitions, which state his name as "Mike Ricatto." Ulrich's attorney, former Councilman Tom Ognibene, said the petitions are "misleading" because two people named Mike Ricatto live at the candidate's address - the candidate, Michael P. Ricatto Sr., and his son, Michael P. Ricatto Jr.

"It's impossible to tell which Michael P. Ricatto is the actual candidate," Ognibene charged.

Ricatto spokesman James McClelland called the argument a "last-ditch effort," and said the campaign is confident it will prevail in court.