A candidate is back on the ballot in the 13th Council District race after his petition challenge was withdrawn.
Victor Ortiz was restored to the ballot in the Democratic primary race after a petition challenge, that was initiated by opponent Marjorie Velazquez’s campaign intern Rebecca Chant, was dropped.
Ortiz believes he was challenged because Velazquez was attempting to unfairly limit Latino ballot choices.
“It is a victory for me,” said Ortiz. “It is more of a victory for the people of the 13th Council District and the people of the Bronx.”
Bronx Supreme Court Judge John Carter restored Ortiz to the ballot with 478 valid signatures, according to the court clerk’s office, 28 more than he needed to qualify.
Chant, a junior attending college in Ohio, who hails from New Jersey, testified in Bronx Supreme Court recently that she was coached to mislead the court about her plans to become a Bronx resident, claims Ortiz, a requirement for challenging a New York State petition.
She said she didn’t know if she intended on becoming a resident of the Bronx after college, that she was in the borough on a three-month fellowship with $4,500 in expenses paid by Oberlin College and that she was asked to file the challenge, according to the court transcript.
She also testified that she voted in Ohio in 2016, according to the court records.
She stated in the transcript that she resided at 1816 Radcliff Avenue, apartment 3B when she only filed challenges against two Latino candidates: Alex Gomez and Ortiz’s petition signatures.
Posting under ‘Becca Chant’ on Facebook on Monday, June 5, she called on social media friends in New York City to sign petitions to put Velazquez on the ballot.
Ortiz also provided the Bronx Times with documents that appear to be petition signatures that apparently were gathered by Chant.
Ortiz said he is going to help fellow Latino candidate Gomez continue his fight to get back on the ballot too, going so far as to attend a hearing at the NYC Board of Elections with him on Tuesday, August 22.
They also protested together outside of Velazquez’s Westchester Square campaign office.
“I support my brother Alex Gomez and request that he be placed back on the ballot and allow voters of the 13th Council District to choose fairly their next councilmember on Tuesday, September 12,” said Ortiz.
Gomez said that he would be back at another hearing on Tuesday, August 29 as the board continues looking into the matter.
“(Velazquez) conspired to throw off her fellow Latino candidates from the Democratic ballot at all cost,” said Gomez, adding that she should withdraw her name from the ballot and apologize to her fellow candidates in the name of Latino unity.
Ortiz is requesting that an investigation be opened into the Velazquez’s role in this matter.
A spokesman for Velazquez, Jon Greenfield, of Red Horse Strategies, her communications manager, in an e-mailed statement, denied the two men’s claims.
He claimed her two Latino opponents were attempting to “paint her as having less Hispanic heritage than them.”
Despite his court victory, Ortiz said he lost three valuable weeks of campaigning and had to expend significant financial resources during his legal challenge, he said.