James Butler and his son, also named James, are well-known in Derby, Connecticut. The elder Butler has served two terms on the Derby Board of Apportionment and Taxation. He was nominated again by the Democratic Town Committee for another term. Unfortunately, the elder Butler’s name was submitted to the city clerk for inclusion in the ballot as James J. Butler. That is where the problem began. The younger Butler goes by the name James J. Butler. The elder Butler goes by James R. Butler.
“I made the mistake of putting the wrong middle initial on the certificate of endorsement, which was submitted,” Sheila Parizo, the Democratic Town Committee chair said. “The town committee never intended to put James J. Butler on the ballot.”
The good news for the Butlers is that James J. received 1,526 votes as the top vote-getter in a crowded field. That was considerably more votes than James R. ever received. Unfortunately, James J. has no interest in politics and doesn’t want to serve. It is widely agreed that people thought they were voting for the elder Butler but finding a way to maneuver around state election law so that the Butler who wasn’t on the ballot but the Butler that people thought they were voting for can take office is a tricky problem.
No one caught the problem or paid any attention to it until the Republican Town Committee pointed out that James R. couldn’t take office under these circumstances.
The Secretary of State has been contacted on how to resolve the matter, but it is clearly illegal for a person who was not on the ballot to be sworn into office. It seems the best choice is for James J. to either be sworn in and resign or refuse to be sworn into office. The vacancy would then lead to the appointment of James R. It is either that option or to rerun the entire election.
The interesting complication to this mess is that James J. never sought election as an official for Derby. The question then is who really is that James J. Butler? The name put on the ballot is not the man running for office. In that case, how could James J. be sworn into office or even offered the opportunity? Perhaps the only alternative is to rerun the elections since the James J. Butler on the ballot never existed.