Council candidates mount write-in campaigns

At least two people have started write-in campaigns for Common Council seats. Tribune News Service/The Columbus Dispatch

HUDSON — Three weeks to the November election, two Hudson Common Council candidates are running write-in campaigns in an effort to secure a spot in city government.

Democrats Shershah Mizan and Margaret Morris have declared write-in campaigns for the 3rd and 1st wards, respectively, after the original candidates in the 1st and 3rd wards named on the ballot dropped out of the race after the deadline to remove their names had passed.

Additional write-in candidates could make runs before the Nov. 2 general election.

In the 1st Ward, the candidates for the two council seats were Democrats Art Frick and Gary Purnhagen. But Purnhagen announced July 2 that he had accepted a job that would prevent him from committing to council responsibilities.

“Once again, I’m learning that life isn’t predictable ... I just will not have the time to properly represent the 1st Ward and, therefore, will not run or serve,” Purnhagen said on his campaign page. “Unfortunately, it is too late for my name to be removed from the ballot in November. Therefore, I urge someone else to step up and declare yourself a write-in candidate. I would much rather decide who will represent us than the Common Council at large.”

Morris announced her run on social media last week. According to her campaign flyer, Morris “will be accountable to the residents of the 1st Ward and will ensure that your voices are heard in City and business decision-making.” Morris said running a write-in campaign is difficult, but she is sending out a postcard and trying to call all the voters in the ward.

“You hope it’ll catch their attention,” she said.

In the 3rd Ward, the candidates were initially Calvin Lewis and Ryan Wallace, a Democrat who currently serves on the council in Lewis’ unexpired term and was appointed in July. Lewis, who was set to run under both the Democratic and Working Families parties, renounced his candidacy after accepting the assistant director position with Hudson’s Youth Department.

Mizan, who is serving his second term on the council after first being elected in November 2017, said initially, he thought he didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the post, but after regrouping and at the encouragement of friends and family, he changed his mind.

“Finally, I decided to run a write-in campaign,” Mizan said.

Mizan said although he will not appear on the ballot, he will campaign for a write in candidacy to the best of his ability.

Although both Purnhagen and Lewis ample notice, Smith said New York state laws provide a very narrow window of time to remove one’s candidacy from the ballot. According to the state’s 2021 political calendar, the deadline to decline appearance on the ballot is just four days after the final day to file petitions to appear in late March.

“It is too late to change the ballots, so if elected, the Council will appoint representatives of its choosing in January when their term begins. However, it’s not too late to mount a write-in campaign to give the voters of the First and Third Wards an opportunity to select their own representation,” the Hudson Democratic Committee posted on Facebook.

Each ward has two Common Council seats on the ballot.

Verity Smith, vice chairwoman of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, said in her experience, the circumstances surrounding the campaigns are unique.

“It’s certainly unusual,” Smith said.

Smith said if the people who are listed on the ballot but have announced they cannot serve get the most votes, the decision to fill the seat rests with the Common Council.

The thought is that even if write-in candidates don’t win, their efforts and commitment should influence the council’s choice by demonstrating the people’s will, she said.

Although two campaigns have emerged thus far, Smith said the committee, which will meet and evaluate its position on supporting candidates Thursday, is looking to alert more potential candidates and voters alike.

“We’re supportive of the idea of write-in campaigns in general,” she said.

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