TUPPER LAKE — Eric Shaheen is allowed to use a village property as his voting address, the Franklin County Board of Elections ruled this month.
Shaheen is running against incumbent mayoral candidate Paul Maroun on the Republican and Conservative party lines on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Last month, village Trustee Ron LaScala asked the Board of Elections to reject Shaheen’s candidate registration with a village address, saying he does not live there, but rather has a home in the town, outside of the village.
The county ruled in favor of Shaheen.
Shaheen’s voting address at 195 Park St. — inside the village — is the site of his business, E&M Enterprises General Contracting. He also owns property at 289 Old Wawbeek Road — in the town — where there is a house. Shaheen is using his business address to vote and run in village elections.
“My residency is 195 Park Street, that’s my residence,” Shaheen said. “I sleep both places.”
Maroun doubts this.
“Everyone knows Eric Shaheen doesn’t live in that building,” Maroun said.
“I’m no different than the current mayor,” Shaheen said.
Maroun owns residences on Raquette River Drive in the town and Wawbeek Avenue in the village, but uses his village location as his electoral address. He says he spends time at both.
“I stay there sometimes and I stay at the other house,” Maroun said.
He said there’s a difference in choosing between two houses and a house and a commercial building.
The issue of Shaheen’s voting address was first brought up by LaScala when Shaheen ran for village board in 2020.
Franklin County Republican Election Commissioner Tracy Sparks said this is the first time she and Democratic Commissioner Brandon John Varin have fielded a challenge like this in their time as commissioners, and that the process was “structured.”
Franklin County Sheriff deputies visited Shaheen’s Park Street property to check it out.
“The voter check card was returned to our office, concluding the registration to be valid with said address containing the proper items typically found in a dwelling,” Sparks and Varin wrote in an email.
Election law says the Board of Elections has broad liberty to consider things like the applicant’s business pursuits, income sources and sites of personal and real property to determine if they qualify to vote.
Sparks and Varin cited case law — Ferguson vs. McNab and Wilkie vs. Delaware County Board of Elections — which say that a person who owns or maintains dual residences may choose one property as their voting address and rejects that a voting address has to only be in a “domicile.”
Maroun and Shaheen react
Both candidates say the other is disrespecting the voters in the village.
Shaheen says Maroun and his supporters are fighting to keep him off the ballot.
“They’ve contested everything to this point,” Shaheen said. “If Paul has done such a great job that he claims he’s done then run against me. The people will decide.”
Maroun says allowing people who essentially live in the town to run in village elections diminishes the vote of village voters.
“If people live in the town and don’t have their home in the village … and vote in a village election, they’re taking away the rights of true village residents. That’s not right,” Maroun said last month.
“Basically, if you have enough money you can buy property in the village, claim it as your residence and vote in village elections,” LaScala said after the ruling.
Shaheen said he owns 29 properties around the village and that he pays enough in village taxes to make him care about protecting taxpayers.