The Jefferson County Board of Elections must not allow Lawrence C. Longway to continue pulling a fast one on the people of Pamelia.
Suzanne Phillips, a Pamelia native who now lives in Rochester, challenged Mr. Longways petition to seek re-election as the towns supervisor. In a letter to the board, she questioned his eligibility to run for office in New York State given his residency in Florida.
The board learned that Mr. Longway now claims residency in Pamelia through a commercial building he owns, Long-Park Tire at 23751 Route 342, after selling his local home in January. But since Pamelia doesnt exclude people from living in commercial buildings, the board ruled Sept. 3 that he qualifies as a New York resident.
If his owning property in two states were the only issue, there would be no controversy. People can own property in multiple states without jeopardizing their residency status in one of them.
But the problem is that people can only claim residency in one state at a time. Residency status confers various tax benefits, and it makes people eligible to vote.
And here is where Mr. Longway has made an egregious error. He has claimed housing tax exemptions in both Florida and New York from 2005 to 2010. And both incentives require him to be a resident of each state.
Mr. Longway has received a Homestead Exemption in Florida since 2005. The initial application for this tax break was signed by his wife, Virginia, in 2010. She applied as a single owner for the years 2005 through 2010.
But Florida law requires married couples to file together. So Mr. Longway listed himself along with his wife on the application, declaring that he had been a permanent resident of Florida since 2004. He held a Florida drivers license from 2005 to 2007.
In New York, Mr. Longway has received STAR tax exemptions from 2004 to 2010. Again, eligibility for this incentive requires filers to be residents of the state.
Mr. Longway has served as Pamelias supervisor since 2004. He would have to be a resident of New York State since that time to be eligible to hold elective office here.
Officials in Florida recently began investigating Mr. Longways claim to residency there to see if his tax exemptions should be revoked. But on Sept. 12, he submitted an application to Jefferson County Real Property Tax Services to repay back taxes for the STAR exemptions. Hes obviously chosen to retain his claim on Florida residency as the back taxes, penalties and interest would be much more there than they are here in New York.
In the eyes of New York State, Mr. Longway has remedied any conflict with having a STAR exemption, which should satisfy the situation in the eyes of Florida, said Paul J. Warneck, director of the Jefferson County Real Property Tax Services.
The only way this would satisfy the situation as far as Florida is concerned is if officials there ruled he has been a resident of the Sunshine State all these years. And in the process, representatives of both New York and Florida as well as Mr. Longway must declare that he is not a resident of New York.
That would nullify Mr. Longways tenure as Pamelias supervisor from when it began. In light of these developments, the Jefferson County Board of Elections cannot let him now claim residency in New York State and, thus, eligibility to hold public office.
To do so would be to reward his fraudulent claims for all these years. If Mr. Longway wants to retain his Florida residency, let him run for office there. But his shameful scheme of double-dipping makes him unfit for the local position, and the Jefferson County Board of Elections must tell him so.