ITHACA, N.Y.—Two candidates have filed enough petition signatures to run for the Republican nomination for Ithaca mayor, but one has challenged the other’s number of signatures, which could threaten their place on the ballot.

The two candidates are Ithaca conservative activist Zachary Winn, known for his vocal opposition to police reform and frequent condemnations of COVID-19 safety measures at local public meetings, as well as William Metro, best known for the phrase “Do you want to see some magic?” preceding his Magic Man routine on the Commons (as well as his public access television show).

Both submitted petitions for Republican mayoral runs earlier this month; their campaigns have not been previously reported. Similarly, both are expected to strike fairly hardline conservative stances during the primary: Metro is an avowed fan of former President Donald Trump and conservative icon Sean Hannity, while Winn has been seen in several confrontations with racial justice protesters in the last 18 months or so, especially in the lead-up to the 2020 election. He also runs the blog Ithaca Crime, which is about crime in Ithaca.

However, Winn has filed a General Objection with the Tompkins County Board of Elections, ostensibly contesting the validity of petitions that Metro submitted. Metro submitted 37 signatures on his designating petitions document; Winn submitted 61 signatures of his own. Board of Elections officials confirmed they are the only Republican candidates to submit designating petitions for the primary election, which takes place on June 28.

The specific nature of Winn’s complaint is unclear, though if he continues through the process he will have to specify his objections by next week. Signatories on petitions must be residents of the City of Ithaca and be a registered member of the same party as the candidate—a glance at Metro’s petition shows that each of his signatures do indeed list Ithaca addresses. Some of the entries are difficult to read, though that is fairly common for designating petition submissions.

Winn, who ran for mayor at least one other time, in 2007, has not yet responded to a request for comment via email.

“Winn submitted a General Objection yesterday. He now has 6 days to submit his specifications. He will need to submit his Specific Objections to our office by Monday, April 18th,” said Republican Commissioner of Elections Tamara Scott.

According to the county Board of Elections, 37 petition signatures is the minimum threshold required to get on the ballot for Republicans, representing a certain percentage of the total number of registered Republicans within the City of Ithaca (for contrast, in the heavily Democratic city, 410 signatures are required for Democratic candidates). That means, technically, that if any of Metro’s signatures are thrown out, he will not have enough to get on the ballot unless he is granted more time.

Metro, in brief comments to The Ithaca Voice, said he does not know why his petitions would have been challenged.

“They’re all legit,” Metro said. “What reason does Zach have to challenge them? We are running in the same party. […] If he really wants to challenge me, he can do it on primary day at the ballot box.”

Both candidates are running for the Republican nomination for Ithaca mayor, looking for the opportunity to face incumbent Democrat Laura Lewis, who is now serving as the acting mayor and is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Winn and Metro are likely to strike a very different tone from Lewis

Whoever is victorious in the November general election will serve one year to finish out former Mayor Svante Myrick’s term, and there will be another election in November 2023 to determine who will be the mayor for a full four-year term after that.

The last time a petition objection had a tangible impact on local politics was 2017, when Tompkins County Legislature candidate Keith Hannon was prevented from running as a Democrat because of an objection to his submitted petitions.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com