Nine Primary Petitioners Will Take Over On March 7
A Jan. 4 Easton Republican Town Committee (ERTC) caucus where many longtime members were voted out and replaced with new members was declared invalid by a dispute committee convened by the Republican State Central Committee. Nine Republicans who petitioned for a March 1 primary will now make up the ERTC, effective March 7.
The committee found that the ERTC members were not legally elected, and invalidated the Jan. 4 caucus after learning ERTC Chair Wendy Bowditch changed the caucus venue without properly notifying caucus goers of the location change via a published legal notice as required in the party’s bylaws.
“They didn’t follow the rules. The rules are there for a reason,” said Republican State Central Committee Chairman Ben Proto. “The reason for moving the location of the caucus was legitimate, but what should have happened is a news notice should have been published.”
Bowditch moved the caucus from the Easton Public Library to Samuel Staples Elementary School in order to accommodate a larger crowd with social distancing, but some registered Republican voters showed up at the library unaware of the change, according to the committee’s report.
The ruling most likely means that a March 1 primary, scheduled after several ousted members collected the required signatures, will not take place. “We determined the caucus wasn’t properly held; therefore no one was properly elected, so there are no legal candidates to put on a primary ballot,” Proto said.
The candidates who submitted a petition to primary automatically become the members of the town committee, according to Porto. The nine petitioners who now become the only legal members of the ERTC are: Thomas Bladek, Scott Centrella, Raymond Ganim, Raymond Martin Jr, Raymond Martin III, Jake Martin, James Riling, Alison Sternberg and Kevin Rodrigue. Richard Colangelo was also included in the petition but withdrew from the primary last week.
The original slate of 29 committee members prior to the Jan. 4 caucus will retain their seats until March 7, at which time the nine petitioning candidates will take control of the committee and elect additional members.
“The newly state-endorsed committee members will collectively decide on the 20 members who will be brought back on. It may be in stages,” petitioning member Raymond Martin Jr. said.
The dispute committee also looked into Lou DiPietro’s concerns about the voting, balloting and nominating process at the Jan. 4 caucus when June Logie, treasurer of Citizens for Responsible Government, announced her own slate of 12 names to be considered for nomination. All 12 of Logie’s list received more than the required 40 votes and were elected by a majority.
DiPietro, who attended the caucus and was recently appointed to Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission as an alternate member, claimed in a letter to Proto that the caucus turned into a “mockery of rules governing our party and that of a caucus.” Even though the dispute commission found that DiPietro’s complaint had “merit,” it rendered his allegations “moot” because the entire caucus was not properly held.
The dispute committee also looked into Daniel Lent’s counter complaint on deficiencies he alleges occurred with the March 1 primary petitions. The committee said Lent’s complaint was “outside of its statutory scope of review.” Lent was included on Logie’s alternative slate at the Jan. 4 caucus and had been serving as permanent caucus chair.
The committee solicited materials from DiPietro, Bowditch, and Lent ahead of the Feb. 3 meeting.
A copy of the dispute committee’s findings can be accessed here.
Editors note: The Courier is awaiting official confirmation that the primary is cancelled and will update this story if needed. The Courier reached out to Wendy Bowditch and June Logie for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication. This story will be updated if additional comments are received.