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Monday, March 20, 2017

Englesson Seeks To Amend Nomination Petition Errors

Englesson at Campaign function
At an inviting annual salary of $89,438, a vacant magisterial district judgeship is certain to attract a lot of attention. That's what has happened with an open seat that includes Northeast Bethlehem, Freemansburg and part of the south side. There are four candidates - Constable Jon Whittington, Penn DOT worker Will Power, police officer Fred Lahovski and Bethlehem Attorney Nick Englesson. Whittington has asked Judge Craig Dally to toss Englesson off the ballot because of alleged defects in Englesson's nomination petition. He accuses Englesson of misrepresenting himself in election filings. Judge Dally conducted a lengthy hearing on Friday, and is expected to rule on Tuesday.

This seat was held for many years by Elizabeth Romig, sister of former NorCo Executive Gerald R."Jerry" Seyfried. When she stepped down, her daughter, Patrica Romig-Passaro, was easily elected. Unfortunately, Judge Romig-Passaro was forced to resign for reasons of health. One of the candidates, Constable Jon Whittington, is her husband.

Jon Whittington at Elections office
Englesson filed his nomination petitions a few days early, hoping to get it out of the way. But it also gave Whittington an opportunity to review the paperwork. Englesson had signed 16 affidavits indicating that he had been the sole circulator, or person going from door to door to obtain the signatures from registered voters. But Whittington knew that was inaccurate. His team shadowed Englesson's volunteers as they sought the required 100 signatures from Democrats and Republicans.

On March 13, Allentown attorney Ron Clever filed an objection on behalf of the Whittington camp, seeking to have Englesson's nomination petition stricken. Clever raised most of the usual complaints about bad signatures, bad addresses, unregistered voters or voters from another party. But he also claimed that Englesson had improperly named himself as the circulator when his signatures were in fact obtained by five other persons who failed to sign the required affidavit. He subpoenaed the actual circulators.

At the hearing, Englesson was represented by Bethlehem Attorney Vic Scomillio, who had just one day to prepare.

Englesson explained in court that he had about three weeks to complete the"very difficult and arduous" task of getting 100 good signatures from Democrats and Republicans each. He enlisted five volunteers and provided each with a nametag, a street list of his district, a clipboard and a set of instructions for circulators. He picked up the petitions after a few days and kept them at his home and office. When going out himself, he usually grabbed the petition with the least amount of signatures. He admitted he would take petitions that had been started by someone else and complete the task himself. "There was nothing nefarious about it," he told Judge Dally at least three times. "There was no intent to deceive anybody. Nobody was harmed by it and I had nothing to gain by it."

When pressed on whether he had filed false affidavits, Englesson responded that he had told the truth as he believed it. "I have been a public servant for most of my career, but I not a politician."

When Clever reminded Englesson that he has run fo public office before, Englesson agreed. "I have. ... A long time ago."

Clever suggested at one point that Englesson and his volunteers got together and decided what to say, but Judge Dally stopped him. "I'm not going to allow you to make an accusation like that in court," Judge Dally warned Clever.

In a brilliant move in a case that was well-tried by both attorneys, Vic Scomillio had each of the actual circulators file affidavits indicating what signatures they had obtained.One of them, Kim Plyler, was able to remember where she had stopped because it was a neighbor who lived across the street from her. Clever objected that it was too late to submit amended affidavits, and the two lawyers engaged in a war of citations before Judge Dally.

Testimony went on until after 5 PM Friday afternoon. Judge Dally advised both lawyers he would give them both an opportunity to brief him on the topic, and that he would issue a ruling on Tuesday.

Clever told Judge Dally that he is under no obligation to issue an immediate ruling because judges can pretty much do whatever they want.

"Do you have that citation?" joked Judge Dally.


Anonymous said...

How can this man not be dumped from the ballot. Don't you have to swear and oath (under the penalties of perjury) that you sign in front of a notary stating you are the circulator? I was a Committeman in Northampton County and I had to swear an oath in front of a Notary and pay three dollars for every petition I filed. This is a no brainer. He is no different than any other candidate and shouldn't be treated any differently. Those petitions should be disallowed. Judge Dally is trying to pull a fast one.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Judge Dally or you?

Anonymous said...

I believe that they need to be tossed. This is not a simple mistake. To allow this tosses the whole process for one crony lawyer. This is about a sworn oath of who swore that they circulated the petitions themselves and gathered ALL the signatures. Pain & simple. Dally I think is gonna have to toss this. If not there is case law showing it will go via appeal.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, pretty fair article, but I think there is a few things you missed.
1. There was no one shadowing Nick's circulators. They where putting all of it up on good old Facebook. Nick himself after the first couple days put up a post with pictures of balloons, saying thanks to all the people getting signatures and that they are making great progress. Kim Plyler put up, thanks to all my neighbors that signed my petitions for Nick. These posts where taken down the day before Nick turned in his petitions. So if he was not trying to hide something, then why would he take them down.
2. The woman who notarized Nick's petitions(who is his employee)testified that she circulated 2 petitions and that she notarized them with Nick as the circulator knowing that she had circulated them. Now you want to tell me that is not breaking the law on both of there parts.
3. The story from him about how overwhelming it is to get signatures is the way it is. All of the candidates have the same amount of time. Will Power and his wife got over 400 signatures, and they where the only ones getting them. Fred Lahovski got 150 by himself. He worked his butt off. Whittington's camp got 500 in 5 days and all of them signed there own petitions as required by law. Nick's people except for one all lived in the district. They could have easy signed and notarized those petitions, because Nick's employee is a notary. So how is it fair that everyone besides Nick played by the rules? And no one except Nick has run for judge before. If you don't know how things should be done, then ask around or hire someone to do the paperwork right. He should know what it means to swear to a Affidavit, not try to amend them after you get caught.
We will wait and see what the judge thinks. Thanks for all your time you spent on this case.
Please answer if you think I have said anything that is not true.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did not reach the conclusion that Whittington shadowed Nick from anything at the hearing. I reached that conclusion from what he told me. He also said he had photographs. It is true that his secretary is a notary. The remainder of your assertions about her are false. She had every reason to believe she did nothing wrong. Most of your comment is opinion and argument. I do think that you are lucky this received no coverage because this challenge can easily blow up in your face.

Anonymous said...

Scumbag lawyer. Probably a dem also.

Anonymous said...

If the election rules don't apply then any candidate that makes a "mistake" has nothing ever to worry about in Northampton County because this Judge will set a precedent here.

The rules and laws are in place for a reason, they aren't opinion.

I do not know this candidate personally, I am sure he is a good guy but I also have to question how a career attorney can mess up something like this?

What's he going to mess up and not read as a Judge? We are talking about people's rights who come before him.

In my opinion, which means nothing by the way..Dally should toss those petitions but my spidey sense tells me that isn't gonna happen!

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you mess with the Seyfreid-Romig clan. They want to crucify this guy. There is a time when the family business is no longer the family business.

Anonymous said...

They are really trying to hammer this attorney. There were some issue with her judgeship and her husband or past husband. This is not the time to throw mud.

Anonymous said...

most of these comments are whittingdope and his pathetic family pretending to be the "public"

Anonymous said...

It is very true that the Whittington/Romig group stalked and photographed Englesson's petitioners. Then they canvased the neighborhoods with photos of the petitioners asking people if they signed a petition carried by this person. They even brought in elderly people to testify about which petition they signed and who carried it. However none of those people who sign petitions needed to testify. The petition circulators testified they did walk the petitions door to door. So these people were in court two days to just sit and watch. I agree it was a well tried case both lawyers were professional and presented their sides well. It clearly was a case for a judge to decide.