By Andrea Karshan
Robert “Bobby” Carroll, the frontrunner for the open 44th Assembly District seat, will have to defend the signatures and petitions to get his name on the Democratic Primary ballot on Sept. 13.
That after one of his his upstart primary opponents, Troy Odendhal filed a general objection along with specific objections against him with the Board of Elections.
Candidates will often file general objections to an opponent once their petitions are put in with the BOE to go over them. They then have six days to file specific objections, which often forces the opponent to hire election attorneys and to take the time to defend their petitions are accurate.
In the case of Carroll, a seasoned Brooklyn political reform operative from a political family, who works as an election attorney in his father’s firm, Wolfson & Carroll, it would seem there would be no specific objections as he filed more than 7,000 signatures with only 500 good signatures needed from registered Democrats in the district to get on the ballot.
But the Odendhal campaign, when investigating Carroll’s petitions, said they found a lot of questionable practices and mistakes on the them.
“There were significant errors with the signatures obtained that fell within the guidelines of objections recognized by the Board of Elections. Some of these included individuals who were out of district, no addresses, no signatures, handwriting that was illegible and changes to the petitions – some of which had been done using whiteout,” said Odendhal’s campiagn manager Karah Woodward.
“On a number of pages, out of 10 signatures, seven or more werecandidate works for his father’s firm, Wolfson & Carroll, which cites election law as one of its areas of practice. However, John W. Carroll, signed the petitions twice, once on June 30 and also on July 9, with Mary Beth Carroll serving as a witness to both signatures. As a matter of principle, the objections were filed in the interest of transparency,” she added.
A Carroll spokesperson responded that Carroll filed more than 7,300 signatures, collected by over 100 witnesses, and that Odendhal is the one who should have had his petitions challenged.
“This is almost 13-times the number of signatures required by law for this office. The Carroll petition complies with the election law in all respects,” said the spokesperson. “Mr. Odendhal filed approximately 870 signatures, collected by two people, himself and his wife. A facial review of his petition indicates that it does not comply with the election law in form or substance and would not survive a serious challenge. Mr. Carroll did not challenge Mr. Odendhal’s petitions because as an election attorney he has fought to keep countless candidates on the ballot and taken cases to the New York State Court of appeals to preserve candidates’ access to the ballot.”
Carroll’s spokesperson said Odendhal’s challenges show his lack of respect for democracy and the more than 100 grassroots volunteers who circulated the Carroll petition and the thousands of voters in the 44th AD who signed it throughout the district.
“It is the height of arrogance for Odendhal whose own meager petitioning effort reveals a lack of community support to challenge Carroll whose petition shows widespread grassroots support,” the spokesperson added.
If Carroll survives the the petition challenge, he will face both Odendhal, and the other Democratic opponent Robert Curry-Smithson in the Sept. September 13. Carroll also has the Working Families Party line on the ballot. The winner of the primary will then run against unopposed Republican and Conservative party candidate Glenn Nocera.
The district includes the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Greenwood Heights, Kensington, Ditmas Park and part of Borough Park. The seat became vacant with the recent retirement of longtime Assemblyman James Brennan.
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