Three Council Candidates Challenged
By Aaron Short
Monday, July 20, 2009 5:41 PM EDT
The challenges are already pouring in. Since filing their petitions on Friday, July 20, three City Council candidates are facing challenges to them, raised by their rivals who have been endorsed by the Kings County Democratic Party machine.
City Council candidates Jo Anne Simon, Evan Thies, and incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna (D-Williamsburg) have officially been notified by the NYC Board of Elections of general objections to their petitions by associates of Council candidate Steve Levin and Assemblymember Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg).
According to several Brooklyn political observers, supporters of candidates often file general objections in Council races in order to give enough time to review petitions for inaccuracies or election fraud.
This year, the presence of two candidates, Steve Levin and Maritza Davila, who have been backed by Lopez, who is also the chair of the Kings County Democratic Party, has put other candidates on the defensive, wary of a possible court challenge.
In the 33rd District Council race, Williamsburg resident Evan Thies and Boerum Hill resident and Democratic District Leader Jo Anne Simon were challenged by Jackelyn Reyes, a Williamsburg resident.
According to public records with the Board of Elections, Reyes shares an address and an apartment with Maria Viera, Senior Assistant Director at the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and one of the members of the Broadway Triangle Task Force, the Lopez-backed coalition group that supports the rezoning of the Broadway Triangle.
Viera, who has made financial contributions to both the Levin and Davila campaigns, did not return calls for comment left at RBSCC's Bushwick headquarters.
When contacted about the challenges, Simon campaign manager Kelly Donnelly said, "Jo Anne is committed to helping people with the issues that affect them the most. She is running for City Council because she wants to take part in the decision-making process around those issues and will not be deterred by this classic 'politics as usual' campaign tactic."
Thies was also challenged by Williamsburg resident Hope Reichbach, a paid campaign worker with Levin since May 25, and daughter of Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Gustin Reichbach, who was supported by Lopez for his judgeship.
Thies's campaign staff this week said they were continuing to review the challenges and conferring with their election attorney.When reached on Saturday, July 18, Levin said he was unaware of any challenges filed against his campaign or his opponents and Levin staff members did not return calls for comment on July 20.
In the 34th District race, two candidates, Williamsburg resident and CB1 District Manager Gerald Esposito and Bushwick resident and Democratic District Leader Maritza Davila, are challenging incumbent Councilmember Diana Reyna.Only Reyna's petition was challenged, by Ridgewood resident Andy Marte and Williamsburg resident Kevin Ying, both of whom are summer interns with Lopez.
"We have strong support. We are confident that we have strong signatures," said Antonio Reynoso."The councilwoman will continue to do what she's been doing, even after she has been elected. "
Council candidate Doug Biviano, running in the 33rd District, sent an e-mail to supporters Saturday, July 18, accusing Levin of "playing politics as usual" in anticipation of a petition challenge, though none was filed.
"Levin, no doubt at the directive of the folks pulling the strings for his campaign, chose strong-arming tactics to try and bully his rivals rather than engage in that debate," said Biviano campaign advisor Wilson Karaman."It's part and parcel with how his campaign's been operating."
For the past month, volunteers for candidates running for office have crisscrossed their districts in order to secure enough signatures, 900 for City Council, to become eligible for the ballot for the September 15 primary.Specific objections to a candidate's petitions, such as improperly registered witnesses or signators who are deceased or do not reside within the district, will be filed from seven to nine days after the petition due date.