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GOP’s VanBrederode to carry Independence line on November ballot 

click to enlarge Former Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode announcing his run for the State Senate in February. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Former Gates Police Chief Jim VanBrederode announcing his run for the State Senate in February.
Republican state Senate candidate James VanBrederode, who is trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Jeremy Cooney, will carry the Independence Party line in November’s general election.

VanBrederode, who retired earlier this year as chief of the Gates Police Department, had submitted petitions to run on the Independence line, but the validity of the signatures he had gathered was challenged in court by Gates Democratic Committee Leader Nicholas Coffee.

The challenge was dropped earlier this month, however, and the Monroe County Board of Elections certified VanBrederode’s petitions.

Earning the Independence line is notable for VanBrederode because it ensures that his name will appear three times on the ballot while his opponent will only have two party lines. VanBrederode will appear under the Conservative, Independence, and Republican lines. Cooney is running on the Democratic and Working Families lines.

“As a career law enforcement officer, I’ve spent my career defending the people of this community. That includes defending their right to free and fair elections,” VanBrederode said in a statement. “I look forward to defeating Jeremy Cooney and the Albany machine and serving this community in the New York State Senate.”
click to enlarge State Sen. Jeremy Cooney - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • State Sen. Jeremy Cooney

In his lawsuit filings, Coffee alleged that almost half of the 3,839 signatures on the petitions VanBrederode filed with the Board of Elections were not valid, leaving him short of the 3,000 signatures necessary to get the line.

Cooney and VanBrederode are vying for the 56th District seat, which covers Greece, Gates, Henrietta, Brighton, and the western half of the city of Rochester. In addition to the Democratic line, Cooney also has the Working Families Party line.

In recent years, the Independence Party has struggled in New York, though its ballot line is still sought after by candidates looking for an edge at the polls and to ostensibly to appeal to independent voters.

Critics of the party have railed against its name, arguing that it fools voters who want to be independent into unwittingly registering as a member of the party, which in recent years has leaned toward supporting Republican and Conservative candidates.

During the 2020 gubernatorial race, the Independence Party failed to meet new thresholds to keep its automatic ballot line. The change has meant that the party cannot endorse candidates to carry its line on the ballot. Instead, candidates must gather a number of signatures established in state law to appear on the ballot under the Independence Party banner.

The general election is on Nov. 8, with early voting happening from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6. For more information or to check your registration and polling place, visit monroecounty.gov/elections.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

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