City Council hopefuls submit ballot petitions

Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. is seeking the NYC City Council seat being vacated by term-limited Councilwoman Annabel Palma.

A slew of candidates for open NYC City Council seats around the borough submitted their petition signatures to get on the September primary and November general election ballots.

The deadline to file valid signatures from party-affiliated district voters has come and gone for candidates in the three council seats soon to be vacated by incumbents, as well as for those in races challenging the current seat holders.

Hopefuls needed to gather signatures from five percent of registered party voters in the council districts in order to make the ballot for the Tuesday, September 12 primary.

Challengers for many of the open seats reported their petition filing totals.

According to a Bronx Board of Elections spokeswoman, all signatures are presumed valid until determined otherwise.

In the hotly contested 13th City Council District, currently held by term-limited Councilman James Vacca, six Democratic Party hopefuls presented signatures to appear on September’s ballot.

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj topped the signature gathering process. He submitted 6,094 signatures, his campaign said.

Gjonaj said that he was thankful for dozens of dedicated volunteers who knocked on doors and went to events to gather the signatures.

“The delivery of over 6,000 petition signatures is a testament to the strength of my campaign,” said Gjonaj. “The most important endorsement a candidate can receive is that of his neighbor.”

A Gjonaj spokeswoman said the candidate would not challenge any of his competitors’ signatures.

A spokesman for 13th CD candidate Marjorie Velazquez said her team collected 3,400 signatures and was still accessing the situation in terms of challenging her opponents’ petitions.

According to a source, Velazquez is contesting the validity of her fellow 13th CD Latino challengers, Alex Gomez and Victor Ortiz.

She also submitted petitions to secure a spot on the Working Families and Women’ Equality party lines for November’s general election.

Candidate John Doyle, another 13th contender, said he submitted over 3,100 signatures and wasn’t planning to file objections against any other candidate.

Doyle said that petitioning is a very complicated process, and that ‘establishment insiders’ are often too eager to knock off other challengers to the ballot.

Perennial candidate Egidio Sementelli said he collected about 3,000 petition signatures, and that he has reserved his right to mount objections.

According to one of the candidates, Sementelli is filing objections against at least two candidates.

Ortiz, submitted roughly 1,500 and wasn’t planning any challenges.

Ortiz said that his signatures were collected with a budget of about $1,000, and that he was running against special interests.

Gomez stated in an email that he had no comment. According to BOE, he did submit petitions.

Republican candidate John Cerini, who said he would also be on the Conservative and Reform party lines, said he got about 1,500, but has no political party opposition.

Over in the 18th CD Democratic party race, according to published reports, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., collected close to 4,500 and candidate Amanda Farias submitted over 3,000.

Farias has also submitted petitions to run on the Working Families line.

Term-limited Councilwoman Annabel Palma currently holds the seat, covering Soundview, Castle Hill and Parkchester.

In an interview, 18th CD candidate Michael Beltzer said he submitted 4,000, does not plan on filing challenges, and expects everyone who submitted signatures to BOE in that council district to make the ballot.

“Petitioning went really well,” said Beltzer. “It was good to be back talking to our neighbors that we have been seeing at our events and in the community.”

Beltzer, who has served on Community Board 9, said he is running a campaign that focuses on encouraging civic engagement.

Other individuals submitting petitions for the 18th CD also included Democrats Elvin Garcia and William Russell Moore; Republican Eisley Constantine; Conservative Eduardo Ramirez; and Green Party Carl Lundgren.

Democratic party candidates filing with BOE in the 8th CD, which is mostly in Manhattan and is currently held by term-limited Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, were Diana Ayala, Edward Gibbs, Tamika Mapp, Israel Martinez and Robert Rodriguez.

Rodriguez reported that he delivered close to 5,000 petition signatures.

Republican, Daby Carreras, and Conservative, Linda Ortiz, filed petitions in the 8th CD.

Ayala also filed for the Working Families line.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
One of the candidates in the 13th City Council District race, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, with his family and petitioning sheets that have been submitted to the Board of Elections.
Photo courtesy of the Gjonaj campaign

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