Claims of election rigging in Lockport race

·2 min read

Oct. 3—LOCKPORT — A pair of Common Council candidates on the Working Families Party line expressed shock and disbelief this week that their names are on the November ballot.

Sienna R. Marren, 18, said she was registered as a Working Families voter, but didn't sign anything, or talk to anyone about running for the Fourth Ward Alderman spot.

Pat Schrader, who notarized the Working Families Designation Petition, said he didn't remember the petition which was submitted to himself on March 22. The only signature on the designating petition is Marren's printed name.

John R. Scarpinato, 61, of Lockport, was listed as an Alderman-at-Large candidate.

"I'm John, but I'm not running for anything," Scarpinato said upon first contact with a US&J reporter this week.

When approached a second time, Scarpinato said he had decided to run earlier in this year, but then reversed his position because of health problems. He said that he thought that David Blackley, who notarized his petition, had taken care of getting him off the ballot.

Blackley, who spoke with the US&J, said that he had forgotten about the March 25 petition and noted that Scarpinato should've received a letter from the Working Parties letter after the primary as to whether he'd like to run on the line for the general election.

Scarpinato admitted that he probably got the letter but he didn't pay attention to it. He also noted that he does not recall handing the petition or collecting signatures. The two names on the petition are Richard Abbott, Fifth Ward alderman who is running for county legislature, and his son, Connor Abbott.

Richard Abbott could not be reached for comment as of the writing of this article.

Chris Borgatti, Niagara County Democratic chairman, was blunt in his assessment of the situation.

"They're trying to rig the election," he said on Friday. "Even while they're saying what they're afraid of (is rigging the election) that's exactly what they're doing."

Borgatti noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo eliminated the "opportunity to ballot" time period for elections, thus forcing Republicans to find Working Family Party's members to run as candidates rather than write-in candidates on the Working Family Party's line, which was possible to do in 2019.

The point of creating these WFP candidates is to take votes away from Democrats, he said.

"It's anti-Democratic," Borgatti said. "It should've been challenged and sussed out."

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