King questions primary count

Andy King supporter Marlene Smith hit Co-op City in her Toyota on Primary Day. Photo by Victor Chu

12th Council District candidates Andy King and Sebastian Ulanga smell something fishy in Co-op City. King and Ulanga believe 12th Council District incumbent Larry Seabrook may have rigged the Democratic primary.

“I think it was a sham,” Ulanga said.

Seabrook disagreed.

“I won the election fair and square,” he said.

Unofficial tallies released by the Board of Elections had 4,871 votes (55 percent) to Seabrook, 2,830 votes (32 percent) to King, 778 votes (9 percent) to Jerome Rice and 333 (4 percent) to Ulanga. Ulanga ended his campaign to support King in August. Rice did the same on Monday, September 14.

More than 18,000 votes were cast in Co-op City eight years ago, when Seabrook won his seat, Ulanga said. Co-op City is known for its educated and interested residents. The 2001 election was different; it involved a hot mayoral ticket, Seabrook countered.

King and Ulanga had campaign volunteers at the polls in Co-op City from sun up to sundown on Tuesday, September 15. At 5:30 p.m., poll workers told the volunteers that 1,074 votes had been cast at Dreiser Loop. At 6:50 p.m., poll workers told the volunteers that 919 votes had been cast at Bartow Avenue.

King and Ulanga were startled when the polls closed and unofficial tallies had 382 votes cast for City Council on Drieser Loop and 327 votes cast on Bartow Avenue.

“[King] got 32 percent,” said former 12th Council District candidate Johnnie Goff, who ended her campaign in July to support Seabrook. “Not bad at all for a first-time candidate against an incumbent. He should be pleased. He shouldn’t squawk.”

King volunteers watched Seabrook stroll out of the polls, manila envelopes in hand, Ulanga said. Ulanga suspects that the envelopes contained tally papers meant for the Board of Elections downtown.

“I carry manila envelopes all the time,” Goff said. “Doesn’t mean I have [tally] papers.”

Some registered Co-op City residents were turned away from the polls, King said. At least one poll machine was broken; at least one machine had numbers on it before Primary Day began, the former Evander Childs High School basketball standout stated.

“I’m a sports person,” King said. “I know how to accept defeat, as long as the game is played fair. But this is hard to swallow.”

There are often fewer votes cast for the City Council than there are votes cast in total, because many voters only vote for citywide candidates, skipping the City Council ballot.

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