SARANAC LAKE - A local electrician has mounted a write-in campaign for a Harrietstown justice seat that no one else seems to want.
Michael "Beef" Bevilacqua, a Republican and the brother of town Supervisor Bob Bevilacqua, said he had considered asking the Harrietstown Republican caucus to endorse him for the four-year justice seat in August, but hadn't made up his mind at that point.
"I was kind of wishy-washy, but I didn't want to leave them hanging, so I said no," Bevilacqua said. "I thought they would get a candidate, but nobody stepped up, so I started thinking about it again. Finally I just said, 'I'm never going to get another opportunity like this.'"
Michael “Beef” Bevilacqua
Asked why he wants to be a Harrietstown justice, Bevilacqua said, "It's something that I liked doing before."
In 1979, Bevilacqua was elected to a town of Santa Clara justice seat, but he resigned after his first term was up because of conflict-of-interest concerns that arose when he took a correction officer job. (Editor's note: This sentence has been corrected.)
Bevilacqua, 62, retired from the state Department of Corrections in 2010. During the time he was a CO and since he retired, he has continued to run his local electrical contracting business, Beef's Electric.
The seat Bevilacqua is pursuing became available following Howard Riley's resignation in August. None of the town's political parties - Republicans, Democrats or Conservatives - were able to find someone to run for the position before the deadline to get candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot. However, someone could still win the seat by write-in, according to the Franklin County Board of Elections.
Asked why they thought no one was interested in the job, local Democratic and Republican party officials have cited the challenges of being a town justice, including understanding the complications of the legal process, the training, the odd hours of the job and the recent sanctions leveled against Riley by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Bevilacqua said he's done the job before, so those challenges are not a major concern for him. As for the possibility of the state commission looking over his shoulder, Bevilacqua quipped, "If you're going to say something off color, just make sure the tape (recording) is off."
Since his name won't appear on the ballot, Bevilacqua said he'll put up signs to let people know he's running and that they have to write in his name. He said people can use either "Beef" or "Michael" Bevilacqua.
"Most people know me by Beef, not Michael," Bevilacqua said. "We checked the do's and don'ts, and I think they're going to accept 'Michael "Beef,"' or if someone just writes 'Beef Bevilacqua.' It's kind of confusing until you see the ballot, but justice is the last one far to the right. All the way down to the bottom is the write-in space, and you can just write it in there."
Bevilacqua's campaign is backed by the Working for Harrietstown committee, which describes itself as a community-based organization supporting the economic growth, culture and residents of the town. The group is backing the slate of Republican and Conservative candidates on the town ballot.
Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.