The city's third-party candidates today welcomed a Stamford Superior Court judge's ruling which ordered independent candidates in Westport to appear on the November ballot.
The move could have repercussions here in Middletown, where the town clerk's decision last week knocked all but two Realistic Balance candidates off the rolls on a filing technicality.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today praised the order by Judge Kenneth Povodator of Stamford Superior Court permitting candidates from the Save Westport Now party to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 5 municipal election in Westport.
The signatures of Realistic Balance mayoral candidate John Kilian and common council hopeful Fred Carroll were on the endorsement document filed Aug. 28 in the town clerk's office, allowing their names to appear on the ballot. However, four other candidates' signatures were not.
“It is always in the best interest of voters to have choices on the ballot, and I am relieved the judge resolved this issue," Merill said. "It was never the intention of my office or any town clerk to keep candidates from this minor party or others off the ballot this November."
She agreed with Povadator, saying the legal requirement for a third-party candidate to sign endorsement paperwork "is not a trivial or technical matter" and acknowledged her office counsel advised municipal town clerks across Connecticut that state election law clearly requires a signature.
"There have been many calls in the past couple of weeks for my office or town clerks to waive this legal requirement if the minor party made its best effort to turn in their endorsement paperwork correctly. There is no legal authority for a town clerk to ignore the law and permit a candidate onto the ballot if they or their party have not done what was legally required of them," Merrill said.
In late September, Middletown Town Clerk Linda Bettencourt said a change to the requirement for petitioning party candidates in July 2011 requires that the signatures of minority party candidates appear on the endorsement document.
Regardless, nearly every Realistic Balance candidate is on the November ballot under other parties except Stephen Smith, a Democrat whose caucus failed to nominate him.
Meanwhile, Kilian said he's hopeful the city's attorney will support Povodator's ruling and settle the lawsuit he filed last week in Middletown Superior Court by reinstating the four Realistic Balance candidates to the November ballot.