Newsday: Poquott Candidate Drops Suit Challenging Election Results

Posted: July 20th, 2017

 

A Poquott trustee candidate who fell two votes short in her bid for a seat on the village board has withdrawn her lawsuit challenging the outcome of the June 20 vote.

Debbie Stevens dropped her lawsuit against the village earlier this week after lawyers determined that legal papers filed by her attorney lacked details needed for the case to go forward. A hearing was to have been held Thursday before state Supreme Court Judge John J. Leo in Central Islip.

Incumbent trustee Jeff Koppelson and candidate John Richardson had defeated Stevens and two other candidates in voting last month.

Stevens said in an interview Wednesday she dropped the lawsuit because “I think this is what’s best for the village.”

“I didn’t want the village to be quote-unquote shut down and blamed on me,” she said. “I’m not through fighting. I’m just doing what I think is best.”

Stevens, a spa owner, said she had not decided whether she would run again for a seat on the village board.

In an email, Mayor Dolores Parrish said she was “happy it is over. I am looking forward to moving forward in the village.”

Richardson, a New York City firefighter, took the oath of office last week from Village Clerk Joseph Newfield after he insisted on being sworn in to begin his two-year term.

Newfield said Koppelson was sworn into his second two-year term Tuesday after Stevens discontinued her lawsuit. Newfield said the village board will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday. The village board has not held meetings while officials awaited the outcome of Stevens’ lawsuit.

Stevens and her attorney, George Vlachos of Central Islip, had asked in the lawsuit for a recanvass of the 379 ballots cast in the election — alleging that Poquott officials had allowed some people to vote though they had not registered at least 10 days before the election, as required by law.

Poquott officials denied wrongdoing and said the vote was certified by the Suffolk Board of Elections.

Scott Middleton, a Ronkonkoma lawyer and partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick who represented the village in Stevens’ lawsuit, said her legal papers contained “deficiencies,” such as failing to name the four other trustee candidates among parties potentially affected by the lawsuit.

“I don’t know what motivated this lawsuit,” Middleton said. “The village took it very seriously.”

Middleton said the omissions in Stevens’ lawsuit were discussed last week during a conference with the judge. After the meeting, Middleton said, Vlachos notified him that Stevens would drop her suit. Vlachos could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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