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Would-Be Sleepy Hollow Candidate Not Giving Up

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – A Sleepy Hollow resident who hoped to secure the Democratic nomination for village trustee but found his supporters arrived a minute too late to Saturday's caucus to nominate him says he has not given up.

“I'm definitely filing a complaint,” Donald Caetano, 76, said in a phone interview after he had left the Westchester County Clerk's office Monday. “I'm going to go forward with this.”

Even as Caetano pledged to continue his fight, party leaders said many people who came to the caucus after it had been officially closed were not registered Democrats.

Trustee Bruce Campbell said in an email that only 17 of the 39 names on a sign-in list circulated by the latecomers were registered Democrats. He added that two people on the list “probably don't live in the village.”

“That leaves 15,” he said. “There were over 20 registered Democrats who voted unanimously at the caucus, so even if the others had arrived on time the outcome would have been the same.”

Sleepy Hollow Democrats nominated one incumbent and two newcomers in Saturday's caucus. Trustee Karin Wompa will seek reelection alongside zoning board member Jennifer Lobato-Church and resident Susan MacFarlane.

Campbell said the Democratic Party is ready to move forward. "The candidates were selected legitimately. Let's get on to talking about the village and our vision for it," he said.

Police were called to Saturday's caucus to calm tensions after about 40 people showed up after the meeting's stated start time to vote on nominations for three open village trustee positions. The group of people had hoped to participate in the caucus, but found three nominees had been picked and party chair Janet Gandolfo had already closed the caucus about a minute after it had started.

Caetano disputed Campbell's remarks that a number of his supporters were not registered Democrats and said to his knowledge they were registered. He said Saturday's caucus was a sign of corruption in the village and “it's got to stop.”

New York State Board of Elections spokesperson Tom Connolly said the law governing village elections only specify how a caucus should be publicized, who should attend the meeting and how to determine which nominees are chosen. The law does not address issues such as how long a party chair should wait before closing a meeting.

“There's nothing in the law about how long it should take,” he said.

Reginald Lafayette, Chair of the Westchester County Democratic Committee, declined to comment on the matter because he was not present at the caucus.

“I can't speak to that,” he said.

An email asking for comment sent to the president of the League of Women Voters of Westchester had not been answered as of publish time Monday night.

The Sleepy Hollow Independent Party candidates running against the Democratic candidates had yet to issue comment on the matter as of publish time as well.

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