Dunkirk First Ward Republican write-in written off

There will be several opportunities to fill in the blank in Dunkirk’s First Ward election in November, but it will not be on the Republican line.

There was no Republican-endorsed candidate for the First Ward, which is situated by the eastern lakefront and is currently represented by Donald J. Williams Jr. However, a petition was filed for an opportunity to ballot.

Similar to a “write-in,” an opportunity to ballot or OTB is a blank space for a name under a specific party line.

Williams filed a complaint against that petition and the Chautauqua County Board of Elections met recently for a hearing to address that complaint.

“The board unanimously decided that the petition that was filed was invalid,” Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Brian Abram told the OBSERVER. “The specific complaint was that the petition’s signatures were not truly authentic. So the board met and determined they agreed with the objector.”

Abram explained an opportunity to ballot petition is not for any particular individual.

“In an opportunity to ballot, there is no name on the ballot. It’s just a position and the position gets put up on the ballot and people can write in who they choose to have as their candidate. So, it’s truly an opportunity to put in somebody that you felt should have had an opportunity to run on a specific line in a specific area for a specific position. So, an opportunity to ballot is a very generic way of getting your name on the ballot if that’s what you so choose to do by circulating a petition that has the name of the position on it and, of course, the party you’re so choosing to try to run under the banner of that November,” he said.

Since no candidate was endorsed by the Republican Party in the First Ward, the OTB space would have been the only listing for Republicans in the First Ward had the petition not been denied.

“Republican voters in that ward in the city of Dunkirk would have had the opportunity to write in anybody’s name as far as the person representing that ward. So, it is a very open kind of process and it is a write-in candidacy at that point because there’s no name on the ballot to fill in their oval, so it comes down to who has the most write-ins,” Abram explained.

When asked if there would be further action on this matter, Abram said it is now out of the Board of Elections’ hands.

“That’s down to other individuals; they certainly have the opportunity to take an action to court to force us to change and if a judge would say that we didn’t act correctly and gave us the information that they’re overturning our decision, then yes, there could be an action taken that would change our action,” Abram added.

Williams has been endorsed by the Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality parties. However, there are still opportunities to ballot available on the Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.

Williams is being challenged by Dennis Welka, who is endorsed by the Conservative Party.

The General Election will be held Nov. 7.