by Carol Thompson
Oswego County Supreme County Judge James McCarthy will render a decision in an Article 78 proceeding held to determine if the Oswego County clerk position will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election. Attorneys for all side argued the case this afternoon at the county courthouse in Oswego.
Former legislator James McMahon had filed the Article 78, alleging that the successor to the late county clerk George Williams should be appointed by the governor though 2013.
The defendants include the Democrat, Republican, Working Families and Independence parties, candidates Michael Backus and Phil Vasho as well as county election commissioners Donald Wart and Richard Atkins.
Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that New York State County Law section 400 should apply in filling a vacancy. The law states that a vacancy occurring three months prior to an election should be a governor’s appointment.
Attorneys for the defendants argued that state Election Law, which contradicts county law, should prevail and an election should be held.
McCarthy quizzed the lawyer for the plaintiff extensively. At issue was the placement of a comma in the county law. McCarthy also noted that if the governor wanted to appoint someone to the position, he would have done so by now.
In attendance at the hearing were Assemblyman Will Barclay, clerk candidate Michael Backus, his father Mark Backus, and Oswego County Conservative Party Chairman Ron Greenleaf.
McCarthy said he will have his decision available at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.