Green defends moving city referendum vote

A letter from the Democratic Board of Election Commissioner says the lack of communication prevented the referendum in November regarding the increasing of Dunkirk Common Council members terms from two years to four.

Norman P. Green wrote to the OBSERVER on Sunday, following an OBSERVER editorial criticizing the change, that the issue came down to a lack of awareness. “The problem was that neither the staffers in the County Board of Elections office who monitor town, city and village referendums and election vacancies and the Dunkirk City Clerk never communicated on the referendum,” he said. “It was then too late in October to get the referendum on the 2018 November ballot for city voters.”

Moving of the referendum vote from 2018 to this year has been a point of contention in recent weeks. Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan in December wanted answers as to why the vote did not occur in November at a council meeting on Dec. 18. At the first Dunkirk meeting this year, city leaders amended the resolution to change the vote to 2019 after city attorney Richard Morrisroe admitted to making a change.

“We held off because it wasn’t a city election cycle year, and in consult with the Board of Elections, we thought turnout would be better, and we’d get a better response if we waited until there was a city election; so we held off until 2019 to put that on the ballot,” Morrisroe said last week.

Green’s letter notes that when the Board of Elections found out about the referendum — in October — the options were to hold a special election, which he claims would have cost the city $6,000, or wait until 2019. “In the end, the City Council members involved did not have an illegal meeting,” Green said. “They moved forward with the idea of the 2019 referendum. Some are making a big deal about a small issue. There is no harm being done to the city voters and there is no foul being committed by putting off this referendum to its rightful timing for the city elections that are always held in an odd year.”

Here’s a link to the full letter:

Lack of communication delayed term vote

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