Garrison suing state elections chief for ballot access in Henriquez seat race

Gintautas Dumcius, News Editor
Mar. 6, 2014

Althea Garrison, a frequent candidate for public office, is suing state elections chief Bill Galvin, claiming she should be on the Democratic primary ballot in the special election to replace former state Rep. Carlos Henriquez.

A hearing on the matter is set for 2 p.m. on Friday, March 7, in Suffolk Superior Court.

Garrison is requesting an injunction against the printing of the special election ballots. She is also asking for her name to be placed on the April 1 primary ballot, alongside the names of the five Democrats who are running for the Fifth Suffolk House seat.

In a court filing at Suffolk Superior Court, Garrison wrote that keeping her off the ballot “would be unjust, unfair and arbitrary and capricious.”

In order to appear on a party primary ballot, a candidate must be a registered voter in a party for 90 days before the deadline to file nomination papers with Galvin’s office, according to his office. Garrison, who has switched parties several times during multiple runs for office, enrolled in the Democratic Party on Jan. 16, 2014. The filing deadline was Feb. 26.

“Accordingly, given the foregoing information, you will not qualify to have your name printed on the party primary ballot in the upcoming state election; however, you may run as a write-in candidate in either the special state primary or special state election,” Michelle Tassinari, legal counsel in Galvin’s elections division, wrote in a Feb. 14 letter to Garrison.

In her response days later, Garrison, who once held the Fifth Suffolk House seat for a term before getting knocked out of it by Charlotte Golar Richie, acknowledged that she had enrolled Jan. 16 and that she has not been registered as either a Democrat or a Republican for over a year.

But Garrison argued that there is no special provision governing special election laws and specifically, how long one should belong to a party before they can run in a special election. She added that she gathered 215 nomination signatures, more than 150 signatures required to get on the ballot.

Garrison, who ran for City Council At-Large in 2013, did not respond to a voicemail left on her phone on Wednesday morning.

A Galvin spokesman declined comment, saying it is a pending legal matter.

The Democrats on the primary ballot include Evandro Carvalho, an attorney; Karen Charles, chief of staff at the state’s Department of Telecommunications; Jennifer Johnson, a local activist; Barry Lawton, who has run for this seat previously; and Roy Owens, who like Garrison is a perennial candidate.

The winner of the April 1 primary is expected to cruise through the April 29 general election. The winner will fill out the rest of Henriquez's term, and will have to stand for reelection in the fall.

Henriquez, who was elected to the Fifth Suffolk District in 2010, is serving six months in jail after being found guilty of assault and battery on a woman. House members ejected him in February by a 146 to 5 vote.