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Says leaving early an effort to install deputy
Two weeks after announcing his resignation, Anthony Scannapieco, the longtime Republican commissioner on the Putnam Board of Elections, said he plans to resign on Thursday (June 30) because of a dislike for the acrimony in county politics and because he hoped an early exit would smooth the way for his deputy to succeed him.
Scannapieco’s term would have ended in December; he has been the Republican commissioner for 31 years and also serves as head of the Putnam County Republican Committee. In New York, commissioners are recommended by the county party committees and appointed by the Legislature.
This spring, Scannapieco became embroiled in a dispute over petitions he circulated to get incumbent Legislator Neal Sullivan on the ballot for a primary election. When Sullivan’s primary opponent challenged some petitions, a state court got involved and Sullivan ended his campaign.
In his May 31 resignation letter to County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Scannapieco wrote that “the political landscape in Putnam County has become more contentious than ever before, and individuals no longer behave with civility and decorum,” prompting him to retire. He proposed that Kelly Primavera, his deputy, succeed him.
Scannapieco said June 14 that the county Republican Party’s executive committee backed Primavera. However, he said, while two county legislators wanted quick action, others said it was too late to add a vote to the agenda of their June 2 monthly meeting. (The Legislature scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, June 23.)
Moreover, he said, some Republicans questioned Primavera’s selection by the executive committee, instead of the entire committee. Scannapieco said that if the full committee isn’t in session, the executive committee can make appointments. “That’s what we did,” he said, adding that precedent exists: “I’ve been voted chairman more times by the executive committee than the whole committee.”
Scannapieco’s leadership took a hit in February when the full Republican committee, voting 148-76, endorsed state Assembly Member Kevin Byrne for county executive, rejecting county Legislator Carl Albano, Scannapieco’s choice.
Then came Sullivan’s campaign. Petitions signed by Republican voters had to be submitted to the Board of Elections by April 7. Scannapieco acknowledged that he goofed up. “I did put down May, instead of April,” as the month he collected one page of signatures, he said, which was past the deadline.
But he asserted that Sullivan erred, too, seeking signatures from backers of Rob Astorino, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, not all of whom live in Sullivan’s district. “A lot of the petitions were knocked out for that reason,” Scannapieco said.
Asked, in an email, whether he, like Scannapieco, made mistakes in circulating petitions, Sullivan on Tuesday (June 21) replied with the statement he issued when ending his campaign in April. In it, he blamed “issues involving the arduous and highly subjective petition process.”
After Sullivan dropped out, the state court judge gave Scannapieco three days to find another candidate. However, he said: “I had nobody to run. So that was the end of it.” Later, various Republicans “were going on and on, saying it’s my fault, and Kelly’s fault,” although “there’s nobody, nobody, in this county who did what I did for the Republican Party. There was just nothing I could do at this time.
“There’s some lies going on out there,” he said.