Extends the time period in which certain elected officials have to file their oath of office.
Ayes (57): Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Espaillat, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Gallivan, Gianaris, Gipson, Golden, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Kennedy, Klein, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, Montgomery, Nozzolio, O'Brien, O'Mara, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Robach, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Nays (4): Hoylman, Krueger, Rivera, Tkaczyk
TITLE OF BILL: An act extending the time within which certain elected officers may file their oaths of office
This bill would allow for those duly elected officials in the Town of Smithtown in the most recent town-wide election (November 2013), who failed to timely file their oaths of office within the statutory deadline, to properly cure that ministerial defect and serve out their full four-year terms.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1: The first section provides that for any duly elected official in a town-wide race in the Town of Smithtown who failed to timely take or file their respective oath of office, such officials will have an additional thirty day time frame from enactment of this legislation to take and file their respective oaths of office. If such elected officials take and file their respective oaths of office in the new thirty day timeframe, they will be deemed to have been in their elected office since the commencement of their term (January 1, 2014) and shall remain in their respective office until the conclusion of their term (December 31, 2017).
Section 2: The second section sets forth an immediate effective date.
Under current law, once the term of a duly elected official begins, such elected official has thirty days from commencement of their term to take and file an oath of office. Failure to take and file an oath of office in the thirty day time frame disqualifies the duly elected official from serving in their office, thereby leaving the office vacant. Pursuant to existing law, once a vacancy occurs, the serving town board members may appoint someone to fill the vacancy. However, the appointment is merely temporary until an election can be held in the next-occurring November to fill the remaining balance of that term of office.
On November 5th, 2013, the voters of the Town of Smithtown overwhelmingly elected a town supervisor and two council members to the Smithtown Town Board. On January 1st, 2014, Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick took their respective oaths of office before a judge and dozens of witnesses on the front steps of Town Hall and thereafter assumed their official duties. Unfortunately however, they failed to properly file their oaths of office in the Town Clerk's Office within the thirty day time frame required by law. In the absence of such filing, an opinion of the town attorney concluded that Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick could not legally hold the offices they had just been elected to by the voters.
On February 13, 2014, in a spirit of collegiality, cooperation and out of respect for the decision of Smithtown voters on Election Day, the serving Town Board Members appointed both Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick to their elected positions until December 31st,
2014, as permitted by law. As previously stated, however, without this legislation Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick would need to run again for these elected offices this coming November in order to serve out the remaining balance of a four-year term. This is an unforeseen, unintended consequence of existing state law that should be immediately corrected.
Had the Town Board appointed persons other than Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick to fill these vacancies, then it would be fair and reasonable to argue that a separate election is justified and needed since those appointees had not been duly elected by the Smithtown voters. But, that was not the case. Instead, the Town Board properly appointed Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick who had just been elected by Smithtown voters on the preceding Election Day in November.
In addition, current law specifically states that an elected official must "take and file" an oath of office within 30 days of beginning their term or it shall be deemed a refusal to serve the office. At no time did Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick take any actions that would lead one to believe they intended to refuse to serve in office. To the contrary, on New Year's Day, 2014, Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick publicly "took" their oaths of office before a judge and dozens of witnesses on the front steps of Town Hall clearly manifesting their intent to assume the duties and responsibilities of the offices they had been elected to in November. The only obstacle to serving a full four-year term is their failure to "file" an oath of office with the Town Clerk in a timely manner - which was an inadvertent clerical defect.
To now require Supervisor Vecchio and Councilwoman Nowick to run in another election for the remaining balance of a four-year term that seemingly has already been granted by the Smithtown voters is unjust, unfair and an unnecessary waste of taxpayers' time and money. Most importantly, it has the potential to nullify the results of a fairly held election for these two offices. Enacting this legislation would uphold the decision of Smithtown voters, cure the ministerial defect made in Smithtown and preserve the integrity of the electoral process.
None. This bill would result in savings to the taxpayers of the Town of Smithtown.
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6705 IN SENATE March 3, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. FLANAGAN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Elections AN ACT extending the time within which certain elected officers may file their oaths of office THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Notwithstanding any law, rule, or regulation to the contra- ry, any duly elected town officer or officers within the town of Smith- town as of the last town-wide election that failed to take or file their respective oaths of office within the statutorily prescribed period shall continue to serve in such capacity and for the term from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2017 upon the taking and filing of oaths of office consistent with section 25 of the town law provided such oaths are taken within 30 days from the effective date of this act. Such town officer or officers that take and file their oaths of office within 30 days of the effective date of this act shall be deemed to have been continuously serving in office as of January 1, 2014. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14034-04-4