Knocked out of Dem primary, CD17 challenger Gonzalo Duran pivots to Conservative Party ballot line

Gonzalo Duran
Gonzalo Duran, who intended to primary South Bronx City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca in June, will not be vying for the Democratic nomination, after he was taken off the ballot by the city Board of Elections last month.
Photo courtesy Gonzalo Duran

Gonzalo Duran — who intended to primary City Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr., in June — will not be vying for the Democratic nomination, after he was taken off the ballot by the city Board of Elections last month following a successful petition challenge from the Bronx Democratic Party.

An official from the Board of Elections (BOE) told the Bronx Times that the binding of Duran’s petition was not securely fastened, and that he failed to address this error in the three business days from the April 10 notice, as is required by the elections board.

“Mr. Duran made no attempt to correct his non-compliance and was removed from the ballot for the Democratic Party in the 17th Council District for that reason,” said Vincent Ignizio, the BOE’s deputy executive director and a former city and state officeholder.

Duran, however, alleged to the Bronx Times that challenges to his petition by the Bronx Democratic Party are due to perceived threats to incumbents during primaries. Instead, Duran will now run on the Conservative line in the general election after netting their endorsement, the BOE confirmed with the Bronx Times.

“I gathered that the Democratic Party wouldn’t allow anyone that they felt as a threat to proceed,” said Duran. “I decided to take the offer by the Conservative Party, which will allow me to continue the race until November.”

Duran’s switch to the Conservative Party allows his name to appear on the November ballot, without the fear of being primaried. The first-time candidate said he entertained other offers from ​minor political groups such as the Parent Party, the Medical Freedom Party and the New York Conservation League, but ultimately chose to run under the Conservative banner.

District 17 is currently represented by Salamanca, a Longwood Democrat in his second term on the City Council who also serves as Land Use Committee chair. The 17th Council District in the South Bronx houses some of the poorest communities in New York City.

The Republican Party’s only candidate for District 17 is Rosalie Nieves, who in 2020 and 2022 unsuccessfully vied for the state’s District 84 Assembly seat, held by Amanda Septimo.

Duran, 37, insisted that the challenges to his petitions — illegible and incorrect signatures raised by Bronx Dems’ lawyer Stanley Schlein — were not valid, but said he will not appeal the ruling due to lack of resources to hire a lawyer as well as a drawn-out appeal process.

“Could I have continued the challenge? Yes,” Duran said. “But we are talking hours of man power and hundreds of dollars in a short amount of time, plus there are many ways to fight back.”

The marine veteran and Belmont native, said he’s also mulling the idea of filing for the Independence Party endorsement, noting that he doesn’t want to delay his campaign further.

New York state election law says a City Council candidate needs 900 signatures, but according to the city charter, candidates needed 450 valid signatures before the April 10 deadline to get their name on the primary ballot.

The Bronx Times reached out to the Bronx Dems regarding Duran’s claims, but did not receive a response.

The Bronx has long been barren of contested political races. While the race for City Council District 13 involves a healthy amount of candidates in both Democratic and Republican circles, the borough isn’t expected to see many competitive races in the upcoming primary or general election this year.

The reason for the borough’s lack of competitive political seasons varies from the overwhelming Democratic advantage in registered voters to lack of viable challengers. The last non-Democrat to hold office in the Bronx was Guy Velella in 2004.

City Council primaries will take place on June 27, with the general election scheduled for Nov. 7. Councilmembers are elected to four-year terms, making a base salary of $148,500 a year, although committee heads can receive more.

The Bronx Times reached out to Patrick McManus, the Conservative Party chair, for comment on Duran’s candidacy but did not receive a response.

Correction: This article was updated on May 18 at 3:50 p.m. after it stated that City Council committee heads receive additional compensation above their salary, a perk that ended in 2016. The article also stated that Vito Fosella was the last non-Democrat to hold office in the Bronx. That distinction belongs to Guy Velella.  

Reach Robbie Sequeira at or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes