- Was the intent to keep incumbent Councilor-At-Large Debbie DeMaria off the November 3 ballot when the executive director for the Massachusetts Republican Party Brian Wynne and Malden Attorney Michael Williams filed a last-minute complaint with Malden’s city clerk, the Board of Registrar of Voters and the city solicitor?
If the duo had succeeded in the challenge of signatures, that’s exactly what would have happened.
Councilor-At-Large DeMaria was shocked that her nomination papers were being questioned since the implication was that the signatures in question were not valid.
When MATV’s Neighborhood View asked if she thought this was a personal attack against her because her nomination papers where the only ones that were being challenged, DeMaria responded that she “probably was seen as an easy target but hoped it wasn’t because she was the only female and democratic incumbent running for councilor-at-large.”
DeMaria also admitted that the challenge woke her up to the lengths some people were willing to go to win the election. She went on to say that the worst part of the situation is that her and her family’s integrity was being called into question.
The essence of the complaint which was filed at 4:30 p.m. on August 13 exactly one-half hour before the deadline for objections is as follows:
- Some signatures appear to have been signed by the same individual. (Request said signatures be invalidated).
- Some pages did not list term of office length. (All signatures on said pages should be invalidated).
- Some signatures did not exist at address signed. (Request said signatures be invalidated).
- Some signatures were illegible. (Request said signatures be invalidated).
- Some signatures had wrong last name signed. (Said signatures should be invalidated).
The objections filed against DeMaria’s nomination papers required the Malden Board of Registrar of Voters to convene a hearing which took place on Tuesday, August 18 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers. The board painstakingly looked at the 38 contested signatures but also reviewed signatures that were originally invalidated by the City Clerk’s office on DeMaria’s nomination papers. Only one signature was not certified by the Board of Registrars and four that had been invalidated by the clerk’s office were certified by the board, therefore DeMaria’s total number of valid certified signatures was 205.
This means the challenge failed and her name will be on the November 3 ballot for councilor-at-large. It was noted at the hearing by the Board of Registrar of Voters that the complainants had not brought a single person to the hearing to testify that they had not signed the nomination papers.
DeMaria was represented at the hearing by Attorney Dennis Newman, who made it clear at the hearing that the burden of proof in this type of hearing is on the complainant to prove their case. They did not.
DeMaria expressed her gratitude to those who had signed her nomination papers and those who took time to attend the hearing to swear that their signatures were legitimate, including an 85-year-old neighbor and a woman who return early from a trip to Italy.
When asked if she thought there was local Republican knowledge and perhaps collusion in the challenge to her nomination papers, DeMaria replied by saying “who’s going to benefit from the challenge may point to who is behind it.”
MATV’s Neighborhood View made efforts to contact Brian Wynne, executive director at Mass Republican Party as well as Republican incumbent candidates Councilors-At-Large David D’Arcangelo and Craig Spadafora to get their comments for this article.
Unfortunately, none of them chose to respond to the request for comment. Worth mentioning according to Campaign Finance Reports submitted by David D’Arcangelo to the Malden City Clerk’s Office, Attorney Michael Williams who was the Malden signatory to the complaint against DeMaria has been contributing funds to the D’Arcangelo campaign for a number of years.
DeMaria made it clear she did not forge any signatures on her nomination papers when asked by MATV’s Neighborhood View: “If anyone thinks that this challenge had merit or validity please reach out to me, I would personally want to speak to them.”