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Conservative endorsements raise questions, complaints

Two weeks before the Republican primary,and the 2009 election in the town of Camillus is already shaping up to be unusually heated, with controversy surrounding the Camillus Conservative Committee's candidate endorsements.

Five objections have been filed with the Onondaga County Board of Elections, contesting the at-large voting method the Conservatives used to select candidates.

Helen Kiggins, Republican commissioner of elections, said the county had determined the Conservative certification of nomination was valid. If objectors wanted to pursue their complaints they had until the end of the day Monday to file a lawsuit and take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The objections were filed by incumbent Councilors Roger Pisarek, Kathy MacRae, David Callahan, whom objected to the endorsements of their opponents, and by residents Yolanda Fero and Barbara Donovan.

A change of plans

Because the town of Camillus is divided into wards, the objectors argue only those who live within the ward the candidate would represent should have been allowed to vote, rather than the entire group present voting on all candidates for all wards.

Callahan said he and the other candidates were told that voting would be conducted by ward, and that it appeared the caucus had been organized as if the voting would be by ward.

Kiggins said she received a phone call during the caucus from Camillus Conservative Committee Chair Robert Grahm and Onondaga County Conservative Party Chair Austin Olmsted, who asked if voting should be at-large or by ward.

She said it was her and Democratic Election Commissioner Edward Ryan's opinion that voting should be by ward, and she told Grahm and Olmsted as much.

But after the candidates spoke to the caucus, a vote was held and the group decided to vote at-large, as it has in the past, and that's where the conflict began.

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