By Rebecca Henely
The Republicans’ candidate for the open state Assembly seat in Corona, Humberto Suarezmotta, has been booted from the ballot for failing to file his signatures with a cover sheet, a decision he says he may dispute in federal court.
“I do not have anything from the city of New York saying I am not on the ballot,” Suarezmotta said.
The 39th District Assembly seat has been vacant since March 16 when its former occupant, Democrat Jose Peralta, won his East Elmhurst state Senate seat in a special election. Suarezmotta no longer being on the ballot means Democratic candidate Francisco Moya is running unopposed. Peralta is up for re-election for his Senate seat this year.
A representative from the office of Valerie Vasquez, spokeswoman for the city Board of Elections, said Suarezmotta is not on the ballot for failing to file a cover a sheet when he handed in his signatures. Suarezmotta, a community activist from Corona, had filed to run for the Assembly seat, which covers Corona, Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights.
Suarezmotta said he filed for the race with Richard LaSalle, a Republican lawyer who is running for Peralta’s current state Senate seat, July 15. Suarezmotta said he had accumulated almost 1,000 signatures.
He said he did not receive anything further from the city board until Sept. 20, when the city BOE sent him a letter asking how he wanted his name to appear on the ballot in Chinese. He also said he was included on a list of candidates the state Board of Elections published Sept. 27.
But when Suarezmotta called the city board in response to the letter about his name, he found out he was not on the ballot.
“It doesn’t make any sense what’s happened, but it’s happened,” Suarezmotta said.
Vazquez’s office said Suarezmotta had been sent a non-compliance notice July 19 for failure to send in a cover sheet for his petitions. The letter asking him how he wanted his name to appear on the ballot in Chinese was sent to him by mistake.
Suarezmotta went to the Manhattan office of the BOE and had a hearing last Thursday at State Supreme Court in Jamaica on the issue, but was not reinstated to the ballot. He said he is considering taking the issue to federal court.
A recent list of candidates from the state Board of Elections did not list Suarezmotta as a candidate for the 39th Assembly District. LaSalle is still on the ballot for the 13th Senate District.
Suarezmotta once attempted to run against Peralta as a Democrat in 2004, and accused Peralta in 2009 of misusing in-kind contributions from a now-defunct nonprofit, the Corona-Elmhurst Center for Economic Development, which shared a space with Peralta’s former campaign office in a building owned by Peralta’s mother.
Peralta called the allegations a “smear tactic” at the time.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.