Election rigging claims in the Lockport Common Council race
October 2 — A pair of Lockport Common Council candidates on the Working Families Party line expressed shock and disbelief this week that their names were on the November ballot.
Sienna R. Marren, 18, said she was registered as a Working Families voter, but had not signed or spoken to anyone about running for alderman in the fourth quarter.
Pat Schrader, who notarized the petition to designate working families, said he did not recall the petition submitted to him on March 22. The only signature on the nomination petition is the printed name of Marren.
John R. Scarpinato, 61, of Lockport, was on the Alderman-at-Large list of candidates.
“I’m John, but I don’t run for nothing,” Scarpinato said when first contacting a US&J reporter this week.
When approached a second time, Scarpinato said he decided to run earlier this year, but then reversed his position due to health concerns. He said he believed David Blackley, who notarized his petition, took care of removing it from the ballot.
Blackley, who spoke to the US&J, said he forgot about the March 25 petition and noted that Scarpinato should have received a letter from the task force letter after the primary letting him know if he wanted run in line for the general election.
Scarpinato admitted that he probably received the letter but he ignored it. He also noted that he does not recall handing over the petition or collecting signatures. The two names on the petition are Richard Abbott, Councilor for the Fifth Ward running for the county legislative election, and his son, Connor Abbott.
Richard Abbott could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.
Chris Borgatti, Democratic President of Niagara County, was blunt in his assessment of the situation.
“They are trying to rig the elections,” he said on Friday. “Even if they say what they’re afraid of (that’s rigging the election), that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
Borgatti noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, then the government. Andrew Cuomo eliminated the “can-vote” period for elections, forcing Republicans to find Working Family Party members to run as candidates rather than writing candidates on the Working Family Party line, which was possible in 2019.
The purpose of creating these PAM candidates is to take votes away from Democrats, he said.
“It’s anti-democratic,” Borgatti said. “It should have been disputed and resolved.”