Inside Look at Niagara County BOE Petition Process: ‘I Tried to Run for NF Council’

Jennifer Marie LaMoy almost ran for Niagara Falls City Council.  She gives readers a little insight into the world of political petitions and the Board of Elections.
 By Jennifer Marie LaMoy
I made the decision on Friday, March 9, 2023, to begin the petition process for the position of Niagara Falls City Council.  While it was a complete honor to meet my fellow constituents, I regret having decided to put myself out there, front and center.  With the exception of my family, and not even a handful of those hard to find true friends, I was unsuccessful.
I was invalidated on Friday, March 31, 2023 due to “Untimely Filing and Not Bound.”
On Saturday, April 1, 2023, I sent an email to the Niagara County Board of Elections to stand up for myself and my community.
“Dear Mrs. Lora Allen and Mrs. Jennifer Sandonato:  I am in receipt of the Notice Of Determination dated March 31, 2023.  I immediately noticed that neither of your signatures were notarized.  Mrs. Allen, I thank you kindly and respectfully for taking my telephone call at your home today, Saturday, April 1, 2023.  Notwithstanding the above, Mrs. Allen, the content of our telephone conversation today conflicted with our telephone conversation content yesterday afternoon, Friday, March 31, 2023.  Therefore, I am respectfully requesting, in writing, what exactly is meant by ‘Not Timely and Not Bound.’  While I completely understand what you are saying, so to speak, I am entitled to full clarification.  Reason being is due to the fact that, as Commissioners, both of you signed off on said Notice Of Determination.  Mrs. Allen, as you will recall, you stated to me over the telephone yesterday afternoon the following, ‘We will not say anything here that your petitions arrived early.  That would be a challenge made by another candidate or a member of the community.’   I personally witnessed all of the signatures on my petition.  The date concern could have been fought, but then there’s the concern with said paperwork not being bound.  Pretty minuscule; however, rules are rules.  Mrs. Allen, you had advised me to just simply wait for any challenge(s).  However, $28.75 of tax payer(s) money was spent to send me the Notice Of Determination.  The fact of the matter is that I now have to redo the entire process.  I will succeed.  Thank you.”
The next day, I sent the following email:
“Dear Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Sandonato:  First and foremost, Happy Palm Sunday!  Secondly, I just met with my beloved priest at Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph this morning, Sunday, April 2nd, 2023. Father directed me to respectfully and sincerely request that I please have my original signatures back in order to resubmit to be counted towards my due diligence attempts at applying to have my name on the Primary Ballot on June 27th, 2023. Wholeheartedly, I do not want to have to go to Supreme Court to demand such as my finances do not permit such court fees, etc.  However, if my genuine, sincere and hopeful request is not granted, I have peacefully decided with the guidance and direction of my family to begin the journey of starting the process over this morning. I respectfully understand that there are rules and I am an abider of such, most especially since my original signatures were already clocked in on the morning of Friday, March 31, 2023. The United States Postal worker on Main Street in Niagara Falls assured me that my package would not arrive at your workplace this past Friday, March 31, 2023. However, my paperwork was not bound and I apologize for not doing so, as this unfortunateness was not intentional. Please do pray for me, if you will. As you know, with the amount of time remaining, even with the extension, prayers are needed! Luckily, for me, the holy week of Easter will guide me and move me forward peacefully and diligently focused on the task at hand!  Thank you.”
On Monday, April 3, I emailed the following: “Niagara County Board of Elections, 111 Main Street, Suite 100,  Lockport, New York 14094 – Attention:. Lora Allen, Commissioner (Democratic), Attention:. Jennifer Sandonato, Commissioner (Republican) – Dear Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Sandonato:  Good morning Ladies!  As an individual, a resident, a constituent, a decent human being, I, Jennifer Marie LaMoy, a Niagara Falls City Council Candidate, wholeheartedly personally feel unfairly treated, having my petition declared ‘Invalid due to Not Timely and Not Bound for the Office or Party position of Niagara Falls City Council.’  If I may inquire and ask, where on the New York State Board of Elections website are rules and regulations with respect to reasons for invalidation of “Not Timely and Not Bound?’  Prior to deciding to begin the petitioning process, I asked some close friends their opinion(s) as to whether I should run for office or not.  One response received included the following, ‘You are the most vocal in combination with the most articulate, prepared, informed and known. You definitely will be one of the top two if you stay focused and keep on hitting the streets.’  Another was, ‘You are passionate.’  Another was, ‘Because you are not afraid to stand up for what is right for our residents. I know you will fine tooth each agenda item and make sure it holds fairness and equity. You freakin care! You know what it feels like to being an island by yourself while maintaining your moral fiber and integrity. And, you don’t mind holding out petty tyrant of a mayor publicly accountable. Need I say more?’  Last, but not least, ‘I would vote for you as you would take the time to listen to the citizens concerns.’  The fact of the matter here is that I homeschool my thirteen (13) year old son, Joseph, and care for my beloved, disabled Mom, who is 72 years old. I made a severe mistake by accidentally not putting the metal clip, which is an object for fastening things together or holding them in position, atop of my paperwork before I set all inside the USPS envelope. From the bottom of my heart, for all that it’s worth, I sincerely apologize. See below with respect to additional information with respect to such.  I’ve done my due diligence; however, am saddened with Mrs. Allen stating this past Saturday, April 2, 2023, ‘Jennifer, you need to start the process all over again. You need to get all brand new signatures from 500-700 registered Democratic voters that have not already signed for another candidate. I could have fought on your behalf for the untimely filing, but not the unbound invalidation.’ I beg for forgiveness for the minor, minuscule error, and respectfully request to appeal your invalidation accordingly. At the end of the day, I have myself to answer to, as well as my beloved family. I also have to answer to my fellow constituents as to why their signatures will count for absolutely nothing. I couldn’t bear to not respectfully and peacefully work together with you to, on behalf of all of the beloved human beings who signed my petition, to beg that their signature(s) not be wasted over a binder clip when in fact all of my paperwork was and is clearly numbered.  Additionally, my son, Joseph, adamantly recalls there being a binder clip atop all of my paperwork prior to my placing all contents inside the USPS envelope. I checked through all of my paperwork countless times and unfortunately didn’t realize that I actually did place the clip atop my paperwork; however, I must have removed it in order for the paperwork to fit inside the USPS flat rate envelope.  In conclusion, our issues are important. There are many times when we are powerless to stop an injustice, but you can never ever be silent. Because ultimately the opposite of justice is not injustice, it’s indifference. It’s inaction and it’s silence. While we may not always be on the same page, we must have a clear respect and admiration for everyone’s desire to insert themselves into the struggle. Lastly, I was only able to obtain nine signatures on Sunday, April 2, 2023. This is due to the fact that, statistically speaking, one in every ten households answers the door for candidates. Notwithstanding the above, it would be humanly impossible for me to be diligently able to successfully obtain 500-700 signatures by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 10, 2023. I have already completed the process and submitted such. However, I beg to know what occurred at the Niagara County Board of Elections from the timeframe of 2:05 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. that made the both of you, Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Sandonato take matters into your own hands and invalidate my petition?  I mean absolutely no disrespect towards either one of you. I am, simply put, exercising my right to appeal your Notice of Determination against me, as the candidate, and my valid signatures, my fellow constituents. Accordingly, if need be, I will represent myself, Pro Se, on behalf of everyone who signed my petition, in Supreme Court in Niagara Falls, New York.”
Due to absolutely no response, I reached out to Mrs. Allen by telephone.
Verbatim Documentation of Telephone Conversation Content
Monday, April 3rd, 2023 at 12:17 p.m. (Length: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)
NCBOE: Receptionist Niagara County Board of Elections Rep.)
JML: Jennifer Marie LaMoy, Niagara Falls City Council Candidate, 2023

LAA: Lora A. Allen,

Democratic Commissioner, Niagara County Board of Elections, Lockport, New York.
NCBOE Rep.: “Board of Elections.”
JML: “Yes, May I speak with Lora Allen please?”
NCBOE Rep.: “Sure. Hold one one second.”
(Music ~ Call placed on hold.)
NCBOE Rep.: “I’ll transfer you in. Hold on one second.”
JML: “Thank you.”
NCBOE Rep.: “You’re welcome.”
Niagara County Board of Elections Commissioner Lora A. Allen 
LAA: “May I help you?”
JML: “Yes. Good Afternoon Mrs. Allen. It’s Jennifer LaMoy. Are you in receipt of my email correspondence?”
LAA: “Yes, Ma’am. I am no longer answering email because you have to do what you have to do. Uh, you, you’re threatening in the email and I didn’t want you, you know, since you said that I did this, I’m not going to do that. So, you have to do what you have to do. I tried to be kind to you, and you know, I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. So, by all means, do what you need to do and I’ll be here to do things right. That’s all I can say.”
JML: “What do you mean ‘what I said I was going to do?’ I’m not threatening anyone. I’m begging for my signatures back.”
LAA: “You can’t get them back. That’s not the way the law works. Now, you got to go to court. If you want a judge to give you. You can’t do that. It’s illegal.”
JML: “OK. I don’t want to do anything illegal.”
LAA: “You can get, you can get a copy. I did tell you that.”
JML: “I have a copy. I kept a copy just in case they weren’t received.”
LAA: “OK. Yeah, you can’t. No, I mean. You want your signatures back. You can have a copy.”
JML: “I have a copy in my possession. So, what I will do is.”
LAA: “No, no, we don’t, we don’t give back signatures once it is filed. So, that’s all I can say to you. I mean, I read your emails. And, you know, well, you said this and you said that. You sent them here. I’m not going to do the wrong thing. They came the wrong day. They weren’t bound. I have to do what’s right.”
JML: “Right. I understand.”
LAA: “That’s all. That’s all. So, you know, if you want to go out and get more signatures, that’s up to you. But, you don’t get signatures back to go out and then resubmit them. That’s not right. We don’t do that. Once they’re in this office, they’re in this office.”
JML: “And, understandably so, respectfully. Listen, I’m not trying to argue with you. I’m not trying to threaten you. I don’t know where that came into play. Where in any of the content of the correspondence of my email was anything threatening?”
LAA: “Still. Nevertheless, I told you what you need to do. Now, if want to go to court, that’s fine. We’ll do what we have to do in court. This is a busy day for me, Ms. LaMoy. Trust me.”
JML: “And, I understand. I respect you for that. But, at no point through did I attempt to at all whatsoever threaten you. I’m begging within the content of the emails on behalf of the constituents. You know.”
LAA: “We cannot give you your signatures back. It’s not.”
JML: “I understand.”
LAA: “It does not work that way. You know.”
JML: “OK. So, what I was thinking yesterday, I went out and I got nine signatures. It was very difficult to get those and I went to hundreds of houses. As you probably know, within the content of the email. And, I don’t want to have any ill-will on either side, so I continue and then I can still come in before five p.m. and meet with you next Monday?”
LAA: “You do realize that the filing date has been extended to the tenth. However, you can only collect petitions until the sixth.”
JML: “Which is actually then Thursday. OK.”
LAA: “Thursday. That is correct. That’s on the calendar on the website. It will tell you what day you can file. That was also in the email Jennifer sent to you when I wasn’t here.”
JML: “So today, tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday.”
LAA: “Right.”
JML: “I can collect signatures and then the latest I can collect signatures is Thursday. Because you won’t be in the office tomorrow, and again, I am very sorry for the loss of your, I don’t know if she’s related to you, your friend, Mrs. Hamilton, so I am sorry. And, then you will be in Wednesday and Thursday. And, then you’ll be in Monday.”
LAA: “I’ll be in Monday. Yes.”
JML: “But, nothing can be dated then the seventh, eighth, the ninth, or the tenth.”
LAA: “No Ma’am. But they can be turned in. You have until the sixth. The state extended the date, the deadline to file. But, they did not extend the deadline to collect signatures.”
JML: “I understand. OK. Very good.”
LAA: “OK. OK hun.”
JML: “I sincerely apologize because I’ve been praying on this all throughout the weekend. I was in tears for the majority of such. And, I just feel terrible about this. And, I feel like I’m letting those individuals that signed for me down, you know, because those are wasted signatures. But, really there’s nothing I can do.”
LAA: “OK. Well.”
JML: “Right?”
LAA: “Whatever. It all. Not to get them back. No Ma’am. We don’t do that. We’ll give you a copy back. But, we will not give you an original petition.”
JML: “But, if I did go to court, you would have to hire an attorney and everything too, correct?”
LAA: “Yes, Ma’am. You have to do that. You have to, you have to, they’ll, the attorney, would give, you could take it to your lawyer and that way and you know, they would do, tell you what to do.”
JML: “OK. Well, I don’t want to do that. Because I just don’t have the money for that. Obviously, I just want to fight, respectfully fight on my own through email, speak with you and see what I can do. But, obviously there’s nothing. And, I understand that.”
LAA: “There’s really nothing legally. There’s nothing I can do.”
JML: “I know. I know.”
LAA: “There’s nothing I can do. You know, even if, like I told you, even if they had not come in, if they had come in today, they’re still not bound.”
JML: “Right. Gotta be bound.”
LAA: “And, then you said to explain bind to you. Bind means one thing together. If you bind them with rope, if you bind them with a clip. They had nothing on them.”
JML: “Yeah, I know. Did you see in my email? Because my son, Joe, had reminded me. Remember, when we spoke over the weekend, you had stated that had you realized that the petitions arrived early, you would have set them aside and not clocked them in until today. You never mentioned anything about them not being bound when we spoke on Friday, March 31st, 2023, when you called me in the afternoon. Additionally, remember that you stated that neither you nor Jennifer Sandonato would say anything about them arriving early, that it would have to be challenged by another candidate?”
LAA: “I did.”
JML: “And, I informed you that I did not want to participate in anything illegal. My son, Joe, had reminded me that I did have them clipped. But that we had to remove the clip in order for them to fit in the mailing envelope. The USPS mail clerk worker adamantly confirmed that the two-day shipping would not permit the petitions to arrive any sooner than Monday, April 3rd, 2023. I should not have been penalized for my package arriving early. I can meet with said UPS clerk and obtain confirmation of such, if needed. I personally witnessed all of my signatures and had my signature as witness notarized one hundred one times.”
LAA: “Yeah.”
JML: “But, when I’m caring for my disabled mom and I’m trying to diligently do the best that I can because I’m the one holding everything down, at least attempting to. I felt bad because you said you felt like I was harassing you.”
LAA: “Well, I felt pretty bad. You know when, well. We gotta do this. And, we gotta. Maybe you should read your emails over again and maybe you can see what I mean. So, alright, I’m going to go. Somebody’s out here. And, I’ll see you, hopefully, maybe Monday, or whenever you come in. I’ll be glad to see you.”
JML: “OK. Thank you so much.”
LAA: “OK. Bye bye.”
JML: “Bye bye.”
(End of Conversation)
To date, I have reached out to the Niagara County attorneys who stand by the Niagara County Board of Election Commissioners.
In conclusion, I did forward everything related to the matter to New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.  However, a community member challenged my petitions, and I received notification by mail on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.
Yet again, another $28.75 of taxpayer money spent.
Two years from now, there will be another chance to run again for Niagara Falls City Council.  Four years from now, the opportunity presents itself again, but so too does the chance to run for mayor.  A third term with our current mayor would, simply put, be too much to bear, so I may just have to consider such!
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