LACKAWANNA, N.Y. -- The race for the First Ward's seat on the Lackawanna City Council is on.

But John Ingram, one of the candidates vying for the seat, says his opponent Mohamed Albanna shouldn't be allowed to run.

"It's not a personal attack against Mr. Mohamed, but under the Lackawanna City Charter if you have a federal conviction, you can't take a seat," said Ingram. 

Back in 2006, Albanna was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally sending more than $3 million to his home country of Yemen.

Albanna says he was he had collected the money from immigrants across Western New York who were trying to get money back to their families.

"The actual felony or actual charge was a felony because I didn't have a license to send that money overseas," Albanna said.

Albanna has been out of prison since 2011, and is now looking to serve his community.

Ingram challenged Albanna's candidacy with the Erie County Board of Elections.

"The rules say you can't hold office, what you did in the past is in the past, but it has consequences. Part of the consequence is what the city charter states," said Ingram. 

The exact language in the charter forbids anyone who's been "convicted of a crime or offense involving moral turpitude" to hold public office.

After review, the board of elections denied Ingram's challenge.

"My attorney proved to them that my felony, the moral turpitude doesn't apply to my felony. There's no victim, there's no money that the government lost, the only victim that paid the price is me and I accept responsibility and I did what I need to do," said Albanna. 

Now unless the city challenges Albanna's candidacy, he and Ingram will go head-to-head during September 12th's Conservative Party primary. 

And Albanna hopes voters won't judge his past when casting their ballot.

"The conviction doesn't say who I am, where I've worked, volunteered, served in a nonprofit organization. I'll do my utmost to serve the community," said Albanna.

Even if Albanna wins the conservative nomination, Ingram will appear on the general election ballot representing the People's Party.