LOWELL – A Tuesday night hearing between the Lowell Election Commission, the Lowell Legal Department and the alleged next candidate for the school committee, Dominik Lay, was suspended until Thursday evening. At that point the commission will decide whether Lay lives in Lowell. His lawyer Roland Milliard also joined Lay.
After school committee member Robert Hoey resigned late last month, Lay, who served on the school committee from 2017 to 2019, should be next in line based on the number of votes received in the 2019 election. However, the Lowell Mayor and city attorney have been advised that Lay may not be a Lowell resident and actually live in Brighton.
As The Sun previously reported and city attorney Christine O’Connor said at the hearing, the most objective evidence against Lay is a residential property tax exemption of over $ 3,000, issued on Jan. 1, 2020 and only available to residents of a community.
“In order to receive a residence exemption, one would have to be resident in this municipality. That’s the whole point of a residential tax exemption, ”she said, advocating for the City of Lowell. “If you rent out your property or if someone else lives in your property, you are not a resident and you are not entitled to this tax exemption.”
O’Connor also referred to Lay’s Motor Vehicle Excise Duty Act, which the city’s chief assessor said had not been filed in Lowell in 2019, 2020 or 2021. From the assessor’s affidavit, she added that Lay was drafted into an Excise Duty Act in Lowell in 2018.
“They have the excise duty, which is the same as the residence exemption. Both show that Mr. Lay’s legal residence is not, objectively, the City of Lowell,” she said. “If so, they would have had to send him excise tax bills and he shouldn’t have applied for a residence exemption.”
She also argued that Lay applied for a change of address in 2015 to send his property and water bills to Brighton.
Milliard began his testimony by arguing that Lay had a right to know who tipped off the mayor and other Lowell officials, and questioned Lay’s residence. “My client has a right to know who rolled the ball here and what appears to be hidden is who rolled the ball,” said Milliard.
He also said the ship “sailed” when it questioned Lay’s residence as he had served on the school committee, registered for the run again, and completed his inauguration in 2019.
Milliard testified that Lay bought the Brighton property in 1995 and later owned it with his sister. Lay was the sole owner of the property for four months. Although The Sun reported that Lay filed a statement about the homestead at his Brighton address in 2009, O’Connor did not mention this fact in her letter to the electoral commission or on her testimonial. However, Milliard addressed this point, arguing that if you move, you don’t have to withdraw the document.
He also argued that the residential exemption was entitled to this property on Lay’s behalf as his sister had lived there continuously as a primary residence since 2009. Milliard said Lay’s name is on it because it has auto-renewed since 2011 when he first applied.
Billiard also rattled off a list of mailings sent to Lay’s Lowell address, including everything from medical bills to bank statements to a 2019 wedding invitation. He added that Lay’s auto insurance policy had one of the two vehicles parked at Lowell lists. The other, his sister’s, is in the garage in Boston. He also referred to a document showing that Lay was a delegate from the 1st Middlesex District to the Democratic State Convention in 2018. “My client’s residence is where his social and political life revolves. It is clear that his life revolves around (his residence in Lowell). There is no law that says he will be in Brighton forever has to live just because he owns property there, “he said.
“In the best case scenario, the city can show that my clients’ tax bills and tax information are being sent to the Brighton property for the sister to pay, but all of his personal bills and belongings are sent to Walker Street. Why? Because he lives on Walker Street, ”he continued, referring to Lay’s Lowell residence. “The fall of the city here is thinner than chicken soup from the shadow of a starved chicken. Nothing is going on here. “
In response, O’Connor postponed the publicly available documents she had found. “These are documents that are filled out and signed under oath, and these are the documents that I would propose to the commission that the city should rely on,” she said. “If the test were really going to come up with a number of excuses as to why public documents look the way they do, then none of those documents would be really reliable, but then the test is what these documents say … no comments about them. “
When Election Commissioner James Pope asked Milliard where Lay’s vehicle was registered, he said he didn’t know the answer. A few minutes later, Lay Milliard seemed to be announcing from off-screen that he had given his car as a gift in February 2021 and had no registration.
Lay declined his opportunity to speak at the hearing.
After the hearing, Election Commissioner Beverly Anthes asked for time to re-examine the information “because both sides seem to be saying a lot and I can’t figure out what’s going on right now,” she said. The hearing was suspended until 5:00 p.m. Thursday. At that point the Commission will officially decide on the Lay case. Should Lay not be eligible for the school committee seat, the next by number of votes in 2019, Ben Opara, will serve.
When Milliard reached out for a comment, he insisted that Lay lived in Lowell. “How much is enough?” he said, repeating the list of personal mailings Lay receives at his Lowell home. He also referred to a 1974 lawsuit in which Worcester-based college students could vote in Worcester even though their licenses were in other states.
“The evidence is clear. It is the city that has the burden of proof. They didn’t carry their burden, ”he said.
O’Connor said in an interview that she wasn’t influenced by Billiard. “I think the evidence that the city first presented and continues to show shows that he lives in Brighton.”