One of the candidates in the special April 24th City Council election in Brooklyn has filed a legal challenge to front-runner Mathieu Eugene, contending that Eugene shouldn’t be able to run to fill a vacancy that he created.
Sharpe’s campaign said Eugene, who won the initial special election but was unable to prove to the City Council that he met residency requirements necessary to take office, is in violation of the state’s Public Officers Law Section 30: 1.
“This individual has lied to us and therefore has no integrity,” Wellington said in a statement.
The full statement is below.
— Azi Paybarah
April 8, 2007
For immediate Release
Sharpe Campaign alleges Eugene is not eligible to contest election
and has left the 40th District in jeopardy of losing millions in funding
Brooklyn, New York: The Wellington Sharpe campaign has filed a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI ) in the Brooklyn Supreme Court to invalidate Mathieu Eugene’s Nominating Petition. There will be a hearing on the matter on April 12. Sharpe is a candidate in the April 24th City Council 40th District Special Election.
His campaign said that under New York State Public Officers Law Article 3: Section 30, Mathieu Eugene is not eligible to be a Candidate in the April 24, 2007 Special Election. The Public Officers Law Section 30: 1 (d) and (h) state: “Every office shall be vacant upon the happening of one of the following events before the expiration of the term thereof:
His ceasing to be an inhabitant of the state, or if he be a local officer, of the political subdivision, or municipal corporation of which he is required to be a resident when chosen, and;
His refusal or neglect to file his official oath or undertaking, if one is required, before or within thirty days after the commencement of the term of office for which he is chosen.
On March 9, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that, Mathieu Eugene by letter declined to accept the office of Member of the City Council from the 40
th District, to which he was duly elected.
Today the Sharpe campaign in a statement insisted that “The 40th District seat became vacant as a result of Eugene’s declination of the office and his refusal to execute his Oath.” Sharpe campaign manager, Rickford Burke, said “Mr. Eugene’s refusal to execute his oath constitutes forfeiture of his seat as construed by Section 30 (f) of the Public Officer’s Law.” He added that “Technically, Mathieu Eugene also forfeited his seat by not being resident in the District at the time he was elected. So from our prospective he is in breach of multiple provisions of the Public Officer’s Law. This is the argument that Wellington Sharpe intends to pursue in court.”
Burke, in delineating Sharpe’s position said “the facts are indisputable” and asserted that “Mathieu Eugene was elected to the City Council on February 20, 2007. He subsequently failed to establish that he complied with the Law by moving into the District by the day of the election. Consequent upon the City Council launching an investigation to determine this question, Mr. Eugene declined to assume the office and refused to execute his Oath within thirty (30) days of his election as mandated by the Public Officer’s Law Section 30.”
“Clearly his actions constitute forfeiture of the office. Consequently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on March 9th proclaimed the seat vacant and called a Special Election for April 24, 2007. The argument that he was never sworn in is therefore irrelevant. Under these circumstances, the extant case law imposes a prohibition which bars Eugene from contesting the Special Election to select a replacement to serve out the unexpired term that was forfeited,” the Sharpe campaign manager emphasized.
Noting that there is legal precedent to substantiate this argument which dates back as far as 1909, Burke was adamant that the State’s Court of Appeal has consistently ruled that an officeholder is ineligible to contest an Election to fill a vacancy that was created by his/her forfeiture of an elected or appointed office. He sited Alamo v. Strohm et al, (1989) where the New York Court of Appeals on August 25, 1989 held that “By seeking election to the unexpired term of the very same office which respondent (former Bronx State Senator Israel Ruitz) has already forfeited ……. would nullify the legislative intent of Public Officers Law.” He argued that the Alamo v. Strohm decision was guided by the precedent and Case Law established in People v. Ahearn (1909).
Sharpe today called on the Speaker of the City Council, NYC Corporation Counsel, Chairman of the NYC Board of Elections and the State Attorney General “to examine the law and move to the Courts to bar Eugene from contesting the election again.”
“Mathieu Eugene has been abrasively non-complaint with the Law. Such behavior by a prospective lawmaker is abhorrent and must not be countenanced, lest it spawns a culture of lawlessness,” the statement added.
It quoted Wellington Sharpe as saying “Eugene ‘s irresponsible actions have cost the taxpayers a combined total of over six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000.00), have left the 40th District without representation during crucial budget negotiations and has placed not for profit organizations in the District in jeopardy of losing millions in funding.”
“Sharpe said “This individual has lied to us and therefore has no integrity. According to former Haitian Consul General and Head of the Haitian Center , Dr. Henry Frank and Mr. Ricot Dupuy, Manager of Radio Soleil – both influential Haitian leaders, he has caused great embarrassment to the Haitian community and the people of the 40th District. I therefore call on him to voluntarily withdraw from the race, even before the court rules on his eligibility, lest he further embarrasses our community and continue jeopardizing the lives of the people of the 40 th District.”