Candidates launch all−out drive to get on ballot
By Aaron Short
Let the petitioning begin!
Severe thunderstorms did little to deter determined candidates in the race for City Council from launching the next major phase of their campaigns: petitioning to get on the ballot.
Tuesday marked the first day campaign volunteers could collect signatures from registered voters living within the 33rd District, which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
In storefront campaign offices, coffee shops and restaurants throughout the district, hundreds of volunteers spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning sorting through voter walk sheets and green petition forms to learn the proper procedures for securing a legal signature.
“Monday we’ve been finishing packets and making sure everything is complied to make it as effortless as possible for our volunteers,” said Kelly Donnelly, campaign manager for Boerum Hill resident Jo Anne Simon.
Council candidates have been spending much of the week crisscrossing the district, canvassing registered Democrats, handing out pamphlets at high−trafficked areas like subway stations, and attending community events.
Candidates are not allowed to collect signatures by themselves or even witness the signatures at the bottom of the petition sheets, but they are still coordinating the petition drives with their campaign managers. To earn a place on the ballot for September’s primary, candidates must amass 900 signatures, though over the next two weeks, many campaigns are aiming to collect three to four times that number.
Williamsburg resident and Council candidate Evan Thies and his wife positioned themselves outside the Bedford stop of the L train (Bedford and North 7th streets) on Tuesday to meet and greet the morning rush of commuters. So far, Thies has a staff of six full−time campaign workers and dozens of volunteers, many of whom are from the New Kings Democrats, a North Brooklyn−based political club which gave their endorsement to Thies one week ago.
“We’re going to run up the score over the next few weeks and are using this opportunity to talk to as many voters as we can,” said Thies. “What’s encouraging is the response we’re getting from people on subway stops. Many people who have stopped to talk to us have already heard about the campaign and are interested in what we’re trying to do.”
Greenpoint resident and Council candidate Steve Levin is not following this strategy, preferring to concentrate his efforts on canvassing neighborhoods in Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Williamsburg.
“We’ve been preparing for this since January,” said Deborah Feinberg, Levin’s campaign manager. “This is what Steve knows how to do. He’s been doing a good job so far and now it’s time to really get out there.”
While it may be difficult to spot the excitement on the faces of downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg residents who get petitions to sign, the enthusiasm among the candidates running for office, which also includes Ken Diamondstone, Ken Baer, Doug Biviano, and Isaac Abraham, is evident. On the first day of petitioning, Biviano made appearances at City Hall for a community board funding rally and at 211 Ainslie Street for Community Board 1’s monthly meeting, while also opening a new campaign office on 89 Montague Street.
“I’m making handmade plywood signs that we’re painting, ‘Biviano for Brooklyn’,” said Biviano. “I might have to go out and buy a quart or two of paint to finish this.”