Candidate alleges “snakey” behavior by BOE
Feb 05, 2019 | 4553 views | 0 0 comments | 561 561 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The ballot for the February 26th special election to fill the public advocate post vacated by new state attorney general Letitia James has been set, and it's a crowded field.

In all, the list has been whittled down to 17 candidates after 5 others were removed for various reasons, most for failing to file the requisite number of signatures.

Although another candidate, Latrice Walker, tried to have her name removed from the ballot after she didn't qualify for the first televised debated or the city's lucrative 8-to-1 matching funds program.

However, the Board of Elections (BOE) ruled that she would either have to move out of state, get convicted of a felony or die to get off the ballot, so barring any of those extreme circumstances she will technically remain in the race.

You might remember that those were the same stipulations put on Congressman Joseph Crowley after he lost his primary to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called on the congressman to remove his name from the Working Families Party line in the general election.

So here are your candidates, in the order they filed their petitions: Melissa Mark-Viverito, Michael Blake, Dawn Smalls, Eric Ulrich, Ydanis Rodriguez, Daniel O'Donnell, Rafael Espinal, Jr., Latrice Walker, Jumaane Williams, Ron Kim, Benjamin Yee, A. Manny Alicandro, Nomiki Konst, David Eisenbach, Jared Rich, Anthony Tony Herbert, and Helal Sheikh.

You might be wondering why we chose to list them in the order they filed their petitions, but it's going to matter.

The BOE will list the candidates in that order on the ballot, so Mark-Viverito will appear in the top row in the first column, followed by Michael Blake, etc. But BOE uses a “snake ballot” to list the candidates.

In other words, the first six candidates will be listed in the top row, but the seventh candidate will be listed just underneath the sixth candidate, or in the last column in the second row all the way at the end of the ballot. (Confused yet?!)

In this case that would be Espinal, who immediately called on BOE to abandon the method and put his name underneath Mark-Viverito in the first column of the second row.

“We have an absurd outcome where the most prominent and advantageous ballot positions go to the candidates who filed first, second, eleventh, and twelfth,” he argued in his appeal before the board.

The board refused his request to change the ballot on the grounds that military ballots had already been mailed to active service members, so Espinal is staying put where he is.

And you might remember that special elections are nonpartisan, which means candidates can't run on any established party line, so no Democrats or Republicans, nor any Conservative or Reform party candidates.

Which means candidates get to make up their own! And they fall into a few different categories.

First, there are the one-issue party lines. For example, Kim is running as a member of the No Amazon Party, Konst on the Pay Folks More line, Mark-Viverito has hitched her wagon to the Fix the MTA Party, Eisenbach is on the Stop REBNY line, Smalls will run under the No More Delays banner, and Rodriguez has nailed down the Unite Immigrants line.

Then there are the generic “up with people” lines, which is almost exactly the For the People line of Michael Blake. Some other examples include Ulirich and the Common Sense line, O'Donnell's Equality for All line, Espinal and the Livable City line, and Walker's Power Forward Party.

The list also includes Yee's Community Strong line, the Better Leaders line of Alicandro, and Herbert and the Residents First line.

And then there's our favorite, the It's Time Let's Go line of Williams, which we think should have a comma but we don't know if that extra punctuation would have got him booted from the ballot...these special election rules are so complicated!

And then there's the boring “I'll just use my name again” category, which includes Jared Rich for NYC and Friends of Halal. We think you can figure out who is running on those lines.

So you've to a lot to mull over in the coming weeks, but choose wisely. The person we elect will be keeping the seat warm in a largely ceremonial role for a few months before we have to do this all over again in the September primary.
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