A Republican candidate for county commissioner might not see her name on the May 19 primary ballot.

In a hearing Friday, Lawrence County Judge Thomas Piccione heard evidence alleging that 25 names on Diane D’Amore Mangino’s nomination petition are invalid. If Piccione agrees, the decision would keep her from meeting the nomination petition requirements to get her name on the ballot.

Mangino, a hair salon owner, was one of three candidates who filed nomination petitions last week to run on the Republican ballot for county commissioner. Her name would appear alongside incumbents Dan Vogler, who is seeking his fourth term, and Robert DelSignore, who is seeking his second.

Attorney Jim Manolis filed the petition Tuesday against Mangino on behalf of Vogler and DelSignore, who claim that some of the people who signed her nomination petition were either registered Democrats, registered independents or not registered to vote in Lawrence County.

“Following the deadline for the nomination petitions ... I reviewed the documents that had been filed by Mrs. Mangino, and based upon my review, there were a number of deficiencies on those documents,” Vogler said. “I felt it could lead to a disqualification of her petition.”

Vogler said he consulted with DelSignore, who did not attend the hearing due to a business trip, and the pair decided to pursue the matter.

Manolis called Ed Allison, Lawrence County elections director, as a witness during the hearing. Allison explained that each candidate must have 100 signatures on his or her petition, and that the signees must be registered voters with the same political affiliation as the candidate.

Manolis presented evidence suggesting that seven of the signatures on Mangino’s Republican petition belong to people who are registered as Democrats; that one signature belongs to a person who is registered to vote with no party affiliation; five signatures represent individuals who are not registered to vote; and two signatures are from people whose names and addresses do not match up with voter registration records.

Furthermore, Allison said, the circulator of the petitions also must be registered voters with the same political affiliation as the candidate. Manolis claimed that 10 additional signatures on Mangino’s petition are invalid because they appear on a list circulated by a woman who is a registered Democrat.

Without these 25 signatures, Manolis contended, Mangino would have fewer than the 100 signatures needed to file a nomination petition.

Mangino, who represented herself during the hearing, said she sought out “with great intentions” the signatures of voters who were acting “in good faith.”

“In retrospect, all of the signatures should have been verified, but that is in hindsight,” she said, adding that she was not contesting Vogler and DelSignore’s petition.

After the hearing, Mangino said that she intends to run as a write-in candidate if Piccione rules in favor of the incumbent candidates.

Piccione has until March 25 to make a decision.

(jshelenberger@ncnewsonline.com)

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