Incumbent Gov. Cuomo Loses Petition on Appeal
By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
After an unexpected legal battle on the issue of residency, Brooklyn resident and Democrat challenger for New York state governor has been allowed to remain on the Sept. 9 primary ballot.
Zephyr Teachout, of Fort Greene, is a New York state resident, a Brooklyn appellate court ruled Wednesday afternoon. Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo challenged Teachout's ability to run for the gubernatorial seat alleging that the progressive candidate was not a true New York resident.
Teachout, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, contended that she has lived in New York since 2009 with summers spent with her family in Vermont or throughout the country conducting research.
Last week a Brooklyn Supreme Court justice denied Cuomo's challenge resulting in a last ditch appeal to the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, which affirmed the lower court's ruling.
"The Supreme Court properly denied the petition ... to invalidate the petition designating Teachout as a candidate for the public office of governor..." the panel of four appellate justices wrote.
New York’s constitution mandates that all wishing to run for governor reside in New York for at least five years before the next general election. Cuomo contended that Teachout — who was born in Vermont — did not meet this basic requirement, arguing that from 2009 to present, Teachout was a constant traveler and resident of many states other than New York.
Teachout conceded that she spent time in Vermont to visit her aging parents and for professional research, but her intent had always been to reside and remain in New York.
Teachout began her residential journey in New York in 2009 when she accepted a position at Fordham Law School. During that time through March 2011, Teachout lived in various apartments within New York City. In April 2011, Teachout rented her first apartment in Brooklyn on Roebling Street moving back to Manhattan in November 2011. Teachout did not stay for long, heading back to Brooklyn a year later and settling in the Fort Greene apartment she has lived in since 2012.
"Although Zephyr R. Teachout has resided in several different residences within the city of New York since 2009, while maintaining close connections to her childhood domicile of Vermont, that is nothing more than an ambiguity in the residency calculus," the higher appeals court noted.
Teachout's admissions as to her sporadic stays in Vermont notwithstanding, the burden remained with Cuomo to disprove Teachout's residency, the court held— a burden Cuomo failed to meet.
"[T]he burden in this proceeding is not on Teachout to establish residency, but rather upon the petitioners to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she does not meet the residency requirements," said the court.
Reviewing the facts and record before them, the four justices determined that Cuomo "failed to meet [his] burden of demonstrating that Teachout did not meet the constitutional residency requirements for the office of governor."
Justices Peter Skelos, Ruth Balkin, Plummer Lott and Hector LaSalle sat on the Appellate Division ruling panel.