George Diaz Jr., a Norwood progressive who was determined to challenge state Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz for the second time, has been knocked out of the June primary coming short of the required signature threshold necessary to make the ballot.
In order to make it onto the election ballot, candidates are required to submit petitions with 500 signatures. Only 375 of Diaz’s signatures were deemed valid, according to the NYC Board of Elections commissioners.
There are various reasons a signature can be deemed invalid, from a name, date or address being missing or wrong to handwriting being illegible or too similar to another signature, or the signature being in pencil, not ink.
Diaz, 39, claimed at a May 3 virtual hearing with the city Board of Elections that he did not receive the board’s report about the invalid signatures, just an email notifying him of the proceeding. But the board argued that he surely received the report, with employees saying Diaz and a representative of his confirmed receipt.
The board ended up muting Diaz as he attempted to defend himself.
Diaz, who works as a docket specialist for law firm DLA Piper and used to work for former City Councilmember Oliver Koppel — who has also worked as an assemblymember and as the state attorney general — told the Bronx Times in December he would question other politicians, listen to residents and pay more attention to parts of the district he believes have been neglected.
In 2020, Diaz was the first person to challenge Dinowitz, 66, in a primary since the Riverdale Democrat won a special election for the seat in 1994. Dinowitz handily defeated Diaz in 2020 by a 64%-36% margin.
The district, Assembly District 81, includes Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Van Cortlandt Village, Kingsbridge Heights, Marble Hill, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield.
In his December interview with the Bronx Times, Diaz cited a platform consisting of free tuition for CUNY and SUNY schools for city and state residents respectively and said voters should have more of a direct say with more referendums on ballots. He also said all judges should be elected, not appointed.
“My dad likes to remind me regularly, politics is a dirty game,” Diaz said. “And he’s right. But the game is going to stay dirty as long as a lot of us just feel disaffected and decide we’re just going to leave things alone. We’re accepting the status quo, but the status quo hasn’t worked for us.”
Diaz did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Progessive Jessica Woolford, a former press secretary for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who lives in Riverdale and grew up in Kingsbridge, will remain on the ballot to challenge Dinowitz. The primary is scheduled for June 28.
The state Board of Elections also confirmed that Diaz is not on the ballot; the city Board of Elections did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Members of the New York State Assembly make $110,000 annually plus per diem, and their terms last two years.
Reach Aliya Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes