How many Latino candidates in a City Council race are too many?
Well, apparently in the contest to replace a term-limited councilman in the 13th City Council District, the answer to that question is ‘any more than one’.
The field of candidates for the hotly contested Democratic Primary to replace James Vacca on Tuesday, September 12 may be getting shorter.
In that race, the two male Latino candidates appear to be off the ballot, and they charge that another candidate, a fellow Latina who allegedly promotes a progressive agenda, was behind the challenge to their petitions that was apparently successful.
Victor Ortiz, who as of press time, still has two days to appeal the decision by NYC Board of Elections that removed him from the ballot on Tuesday, August 8, said at his hearing that he worked “really hard on this” race and called the process unfair.
Any Democrat can challenge a candidate, and in this case the challenger, Rebecca Chant, used an election attorney with ties to the campaign of Marjorie Velezquez, Ortiz told the Bronx Times.
“Rebecca Chant is objecting for Marjorie Velazquez-Lynch,” Ortiz said. “Instead of Marjorie Velazquez-Lynch filing the objection, she had a third party (file).”
The challenge has apparently knocked both him and Alex Gomez out of the race, which Gomez confirmed. They were the only other Latinos in the race.
“We don’t know who the hell Rebecca Chant is,” said Ortiz, who added that he could not find her at her alleged address in the borough.
It initially looked like Ortiz might make the ballot, submitting 1,464 signatures.
After two BOE challenges, his petition total was knocked down to 428 valid signatures. For a city council race, 450 valid signatures are needed to qualify.
“It really felt like a democracy for once,” he said, when he thought he made the cut. He called the challenges “an abuse of power.”
Ortiz said that whether or not he’s on the ballot, he was glad he participated in the process and would like to educate other aspiring candidates on what to expect.
Gomez said running was a great experience and that he learned a lot from the process.
Gomez also confirmed that he got a ballot challenge that looks to have originated with Velazquez.
“Honestly, she was the last person I expected to see challenge any of her counterparts, especially her Latino counterparts,” said Gomez. “She is running on Latino empowerment, and it is kind of anti-Latino to challenge only other Latinos.”
Gomez said he believes that Velazquez is nothing more than a part of the status quo and represents the abusive politics of the past.
Gomez, who was running for the first time and who may continue on as a write-in candidate, said his team could not verify that Rebecca Chant lived on Radcliff Avenue either, as records indicated.
Both he and Ortiz said they traced Chant to New Jersey, with Ortiz saying she had apparently just moved into the district.
Ortiz said he doesn’t believe that his and Gomez’s departure from the race will unify Latinos.
A spokesman for Velazquez, who did not want to be quoted directly, stated in an email that the campaign was subject to legal challenges like those her two opponents received.
None of the other candidates in the race were challenged.