On-Again, Off-Again Special City Council Election is On-Again

Darma V Diaz (3)

The on-again, off-again election to replace retired City Council lawmaker Rafael Espinal is once again on again although without progressive darling candidate Sandra Nurse.

In multiple decisions yesterday and today, Kings County Supreme Court Justice Edgar Walker overruled the city’s Board of elections and reinstated candidates Kimberly Council and Misba Abdin to run in the June 23 primary in the council’s 37th District covering Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Cypress Hills, and East New York.

However, he denied the petition of Nurse and Rick Echevarria on technical issues, ruling that Nurse failed to file court service papers in a timely fashion and Echevarria didn’t submit the proper paperwork with nominating petitions.

The legal brouhaha stemmed from the interpretation from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order last month, which suspended the petitioning process to get on the ballot for health and safety reasons due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The order allowed those seeking to run for the seat to get 30 percent less of the mandated signatures to get on the ballot. However, the provision that Cuomo sites in his order,  Section 6-136, had an antiquated number of signatures, 900, needed to get on the ballot. Thirty percent of 900 is 270.

The anomaly lies in that the City Charter was revised before the 2013 city elections in that it required only 450 good signatures to run for the city council.  Thirty percent of the 450 is 135.

The petition challengers Ariana Zapata and Alexandra Alvarda are allegedly supporters of Democratic District Leader and longtime community Activist Darma Diaz, who is also running for the seat. They received some help when the BOE went by the exact statue and said all candidates needed the 30 percent of 900 and not 450 valid signatures.

“Judge Walker wisely decided to apply the Governor’s Executive Order precisely in the way the Governor intended it to be applied. This is a victory for democracy and a victory for the public’s health,” said Howard Graubard, attorney for Council.

Council immediately took Diaz to task as the preferred candidate of Kings County Democratic Party Chair Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte.

“The residents of our district deserve to choose who will represent them, and not have ‘the machine’ decide who their representative will be,” said Council. “Our collective voices deserve to be heard. I am incredibly grateful for the wisdom of Judge Walker and his application of the Governor’s intentions to put the health and safety of New Yorkers first.”