Local contractor Demetreus Nix will appear on the ballot for Niagara Falls mayor in the upcoming Democratic Party primary election.
Judge Edward Pace on Tuesday determined that Nix submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures from Democratic voters to validate his nominating petitions.
As a result, Nix will square off in a three-way race to become the Democratic Party candidate for mayor in a June primary election that will also include incumbent Mayor Robert Restaino and former Niagara Falls City Councilman Glenn Choolokian.
Tuesday’s favorable court ruling for Nix also means his running mate, Uniquia Lewis, who helped circulate nominating petitions for his campaign, will appear on the Democratic Primary ballot as a candidate for Niagara Falls City Council.
A Niagara Falls Democratic Party committeeman named James Dean filed objections to Nix’s nominating petitions after they were submitted to the Niagara County Board of Elections last month.
Following a review, board of elections officials determined that Nix did not submit enough signatures from Falls Democrats who were considered by the board to be “valid” voters.
While county officials indicated that Nix and Lewis fell 42 signatures short of the required 500 needed to validate his petitions, during a court appearance last week Pace determined that the candidates were actually 16 signatures shy of the 500-signature threshold.
Nix obtained affidavits from 19 people who signed his petitions and submitted them to the courts. After those affidavits were validated by the board of elections, Nix and Lewis ended up with a total of 503 signatures, three more than they needed to have their nominating petitions validated.
“It was a fight, a lot of work but we’re back in now,” Nix said during an interview following Tuesday’s court appearance.
In statement issued in response to inquiries from the newspaper, Niagara County Attorney Claude Joerg, who represented the Niagara County Board of Elections in the case involving questions over the nominating petitions filed by Nix and Lewis, confirmed that the candidates, as determined by the courts, reached the number of signatures needed to be on the ballot.
“The county board of elections received the affidavits in advance of the court hearing (Tuesday),” Joerg said. “The BOE, after determining the affidavits were valid, then concluded that Mr. Nix had the reached the number of signatures to be on the ballot. As such, the county attorney stipulated to the ruling of the judge that he should be on the ballot and there is no further legal action.”
Nix said he and Lewis are now in the process of gathering signatures in an effort to secure placement on the general election ballot as Independent Party candidates. Those signatures are due to the Niagara County Board of Elections by May 23.
While he said he needs party affiliation to secure ballot placement, Nix said he’s not running as a traditional candidate or with support from officials with the traditional political parties.
Instead, he said, he’s looking to be a candidate who advocates for change for all residents and all voters in the Falls.
“This has been a battle from day one to now where every obstacle was thrown in my way,” Nix said. “As soon as they knocked me off, we started working on the Independent line. My line is the line of the people, not Democrats, not Republicans. No parties.”
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