Morristown councilman misses oath deadline, new election to be held

pMORRISTOWN — The failure of a Morristown councilman to officially take and register an oath of office within 30 days after the start of the new year means the town must now hold a special election in November./ppDavid S. VanArnam was elected to a second term on the Morristown Town Council last November, but did not attend a December meeting of the board where he was scheduled to take an oath of office, and sign an official oath declaration as required by state law. The declaration is a small card signed by an elected official, and by a notarized witness such as a town clerk, that verifies that a formal oath-taking occurred. The form must be filed by Feb. 1, under state law./ppIn Mr. VanArnam’s case, neither a swearing-in ceremony, nor the signing of the oath of office declaration took place./ppMorristown Town Clerk David J. Murray said he realized the oversight after reading a news account of a similar occurrence that took place in Oswego County./pp“I didn’t realize it until Feb. 11, well past when he could have filed,” Mr. Murray said./ppMr. Murray, town clerk in Morristown since 2002, said this is the first time an elected official has been remiss in taking the required oath and in filing the state-mandated paperwork./ppHe said the responsibility for meeting the requirement rests with the elected official./pp“The obligation is on the incumbent to get the oath filed,” Mr. Murray said./ppMr. VanArnam was one of two people elected to the Morristown Town Council in November. The other was Gary B. Turner. Both men are Republicans, and the seats they were elected to are four-year terms./ppBecause Mr. VanArnam failed to take and register his oath of office as required, the Morristown Town Council held a special meeting Thursday night where Mr. VanArnam was unanimously appointed to the board for a one-year term expiring at the end of this year. /ppAccording to state municipal and election requirements, the town was allowed to make only a one-year appointment, and must schedule a special election in November to fill the three years remaining on the original four-year term./ppMorristown Town Supervisor Frank L. Putman said he is still waiting to find out from county election officials regarding any cost the town may incur for holding another election. He said there are no Morristown seats up for grabs, and he is unsure whether there will be any state or county elections to be placed on the ballot./ppHe said regardless, the town is required by law to hold the special election to fill the remaining three years on Mr. VanArnam’s seat and to pay for any associated costs./pp“I haven’t dug into the cost yet, or to find out if there is something else going on at another level for there to be an open election,” Mr. Putman said. “But either way, we don’t have a choice.”/ppMr. Putman described the mix up as a simple oversight on the part of Mr. VanArnam./ppMr. VanArnam could not be reached for comment. /p
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News

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