May 06, 2008 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
On June 17, village voters will see something they haven’t seen since the last century: a contested election.
Acting Village Justice George Alessio Jr. is moving into a home at 417 Third St., to become eligible to receive the Republican nomination for the judgeship.
Meanwhile, Anthony LaValle, an attorney who has lived in the village for 16 years, plans to wage an independent campaign.
At the April 29 village GOP caucus at the Village Hall, Alessio won the nomination over LaValle by a vote of 19 to 14.
Nominated trustees too
Village trustees Nick Kochan and Jim Rosier also won the GOP caucus’ nomination for their offices. They’re expected to run unopposed as have all village candidates since 2000. There has not been a Democratic Party caucus in the village since the mid-1990s.
The 2008 election is scheduled for June 17 at the Village Hall, 310 Sycamore St.
Alessio, a former assistant district attorney for Onondaga County, began renting the Third Street home in mid-March. He and his family continue to reside on Donlin Drive in the town of Salina, but Alessio has already changed his voting address to 417 Third St.
“I’m renting the place on Third Street for a base while my family and I find a home in the village,” Alessio said. “By law, the village justice doesn’t have to be an official resident until he or she takes the oath of office.”
LaValle said many people have urged him to run. In January, he spearheaded a successful campaign against a proposed local law that would have allowed Alessio to become village justice even though he lived elsewhere.
Urged to run
“My phone has been ringing off the hook with supporters encouraging me to run,” LaValle said a few days after he narrowly lost the GOP nomination. “Although I’ve been a loyal Republican for 37 years, I had to run as an independent.”
Independent candidates must gather at least 50 signatures of registered voters from within the village in order to be placed on the ballot. The deadline is May 13.
Regarding Alessio’s move-in-progress, LaValle said, “Everyone will have to make up their own minds about that.”
Alessio, who recently lost a protracted legal battle over a closely contested election for Salina Town Justice, thinks LaValle is posturing.
“LaValle has been running around for the past two months telling people he wasn’t running,” Alessio said. “Maybe he did that thinking I’d show up at the caucus without people to support me.”
Prevailed at caucus
Though he prevailed at the caucus, Alessio said he was surprised by the closeness of the vote. The residency issue concerned those who voted against him, Alessio said.
“Residency is dear to people who live in the village and that’s their prerogative,” he said, “so that’s what I’m going to do, live in the village.”
Alessio emphasized that although he has lived about two miles from the village, he has always maintained strong ties to Liverpool.
“My community roots are in Liverpool” he said. “The village has always been the focal point. I shop at Nichols. I go to The Retreat. I get my hair cut in the village.”
Alessio has been the president of the Liverpool Public Library Board of Directors for two years, and has served on the board for 16 years.
Seated as acting judge
Since the Dec. 31 retirement of Judge Herman Harding, Alessio has been on the bench in Village Court every Tuesday as acting village justice. In January Mayor Marlene Ward had proposed eliminating the residency requirement for the judgeship, but after LaValle waged a door-to-door campaign opposing that move, the board of trustees voted unanimously on Feb. 11 to retain the requirement.
The village justice earns about $7,000 annually, while the acting judge is paid $900.
LaValle, who admires Harding and considers him a friend, said he has long wanted to serve as village justice but would never have opposed Harding.
“I waited to run in deference to Judge Herman Harding’s long tenure as our village justice,” LaValle said. “Now that he’s retired, I will attempt to follow in his footsteps as our village judge.”