The mayoral race in the Village of Port Jefferson just took a shocking twist.
In the upcoming village election on June 20, trustee Lauren Sheprow and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden are vying to succeed incumbent Mayor Margot Garant, who is running for Town of Brookhaven supervisor. Following a meeting of the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday, May 30, Sheprow’s petitions were ruled invalid. This ruling removes Sheprow’s name from the ballot.
In a statement, Sheprow said her opponent challenged her petitions due to an error on her cover sheet. In the face of the decision, she pledged to continue her mayoral campaign, now running as a write-in candidate.
“My opponent’s campaign and its lawyers challenged my petitions, and due to an issue with the cover sheet, the Suffolk County Board of Elections on May 30 determined that my name cannot be placed on the ballot,” Sheprow said in a statement.
She added, “I am committed to continuing my campaign for mayor even if it means I’ll be a ‘write-in’ candidate. It may be an uphill battle, but I will not quit the people of Port Jefferson.”
A statement issued by The Unity Party, the ticket under which Snaden is running alongside trustee Stan Loucks, clarifies how the challenges to Sheprow’s petitions first came about.
“The Unity Party requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, all documents related to Ms. Sheprow’s petition filing,” the statement said. “Upon discovering several defects, including the lack of a cover page, resident signatures on blank petition forms and other inconsistencies, a challenge to Ms. Sheprow’s election documents was filed. The SCBOE reviewed the challenge and found the deficiencies identified to not only be fatal, but also incurable.”
In the same statement, Snaden commented on the outcome: “While this decision will be disappointing to some, we should take pride that the law and process were followed. I have the utmost respect for the integrity of the bipartisan SCBOE and the decisions they make. Following the rules with transparency and integrity are the hallmarks of good government.”
The Suffolk County Board of Elections declined to comment for this story, referring inquiries to the Village of Port Jefferson clerk’s office.
In a phone interview, Village clerk Barbara Sakovich said she was not involved in the decisions leading up to the ruling, maintaining that her position is strictly administrative.
“A mayoral challenge was submitted, and it then was brought to the Board of Elections,” she said. “The commissioners met, and the determination was made by them, not at the village level.”
Sakovich said the appeals process will be open until the end of business on Friday, saying, “I’m assuming if there is any change, the Board of Elections will notify me.”