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Town Committee Candidates File Suit Against Hartford Registrar Of Voters

STEVEN GOODE

February 17, 2010

HARTFORD - A group of candidates for the 5th district Democratic Town Committee has filed a lawsuit against Hartford's Democratic registrar of voters, who also happens to be a member of the opposing slate of candidates.

The suit alleges that Olga Iris Vazquez accepted and submitted petition signatures for her slate that were not properly completed by circulators. The suit also alleges that when Vazquez realized that some of the petitions were not properly completed, she had a deputy registrar remove them from the city and town clerk's office to be completed after the deadline for submission had passed. The suit also names Garey Coleman, deputy registrar, and John Bazzano, city and town clerk.

The suit says that because some of the signatures are improper, the Vazquez slate had 268 valid signatures, rather than the 323 necessary to have the slate placed on the March 2 primary ballot. The suit alleges that Vazquez violated state statutes by accepting incomplete petitions and seeks to have them declared invalid. The suit also seeks to have Vazquez's slate, which includes her husband, Radames Vazquez, and her mother-in-law, Juanita Giles, declared unqualified to run in the March town committee primary because of its failure to file the necessary number of signatures by the 4 p.m. Jan. 27 deadline.

Juanita Giles is the wife of Abraham Giles, a longtime city political operative and former state representative, who recently was associated with the altering of a census employment brochure to promote Vazquez' town committee slate. A complaint was filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission about the altered brochure, and it also was sent to the state's attorney's office.

Last month, a challenge slate in the 4th district also filed a complaint alleging that Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez and Chief of Police Daryl K. Roberts used their authority to deny members of one slate access to housing complexes in the city to gather signatures, while circulators from another slate were given access. Perez and Roberts denied any involvement.

The political maneuvering prompted Bruce Rubenstein, a Hartford lawyer who is challenging Democratic Town Committee Chairman Sean Arena for his seat, to ask the secretary of the state's office to monitor the primary.

Deputy Secretary of the State Lesley D. Mara told Rubenstein in an e-mail that she expected her office to send a team to monitor the primary.

A hearing on the Vazquez lawsuit is scheduled for Friday in Superior Court in Hartford.

Vazquez paid a $500 fine in 2004 when the state Elections Enforcement Commission determined that her office had accepted invalid petition signatures.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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