Whether Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. will face a contested general election is not definitely settled, as the attorney for Democratic Oneida County Executive candidate Michael Hennessy of Sherrill has been given formal notice that Picente’s campaign is taking a challenge to Hennessy’s nominating petitions to an appeals court.
Hennessy said Monday his attorney Kevin Ryan received service of the appeal. Ryan confirmed it to the Sentinel.
The Oneida County Board of Elections disqualified Hennessy after challenges were filed to his nominating petition, but Hennessy took the matter to court, and Oneida County Supreme Court Justice David Murad restored enough challenged signatures on May 15 to give Hennessy more than the minimum of 750 to be on the ballot’s Democratic Party line. Picente’s campaign has now filed notice of appeal of that decision.
Picente defeated challenger David Gordon, a former county legislator, by a two-to-one margin in the June 25 Republican primary. Picente also secured the lines of the Conservative and was endorsed by the county Independence Party.
Picente has defended continuing the case as common election practice when one side believes errors exist.
Hennessy told the Sentinel he believes continuing the challenge after the primaries and nearly two months after the lower court ruling belies Picente’s statements that he was open to debating him before the general election.
“Mr. Picente in front of the public says one thing while he’s doing the opposite behind their backs,” Hennessy said. “(Voters) should have the right to have an opponent for Mr. Picente, to have debates so the people will have real choices.”
The Sentinel asked the Picente campaign for comment but received no reply as of press time today. Picente has acknowledged pursuing the court challenge because he believes mistakes were made in the nominating petitions.