Ackerman seat race heats up

Ackerman seat race heats up
Photos by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

Several candidates vying for the new congressional seat centered in eastern Queens were knocked off the ballot after some of the signatures they collected were ruled invalid, but court challenges could reverse their fortunes.

Out of the nine original contenders, six met the required 938 signatures for a major party and the 314 signatures for a minor party spot.

Juan Sheng, running on the Democratic ticket, was kicked off the ballot by the city Board of Elections after she fell short of the 938 voter signatures required to get onto the ballot.

Sheng’s signatures were challenged by Jeffrey Wang, who contested them on behalf of the Queens Democratic Party, the backer of state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).

After Wang filed objections to more than 700 of the roughly 1,200 signatures collected by Sheng, the board confirmed them and took her name off the ticket.

Last week, Meng’s camp also filed a suit in State Supreme Court to get Sheng knocked off the ballot, which prompted a statement from the grassroots candidate.

“It is a shame that Grace Meng feels the need to fight this election in the courtroom instead of at the ballot box,” Sheng said last week.

Sheng is a member of Emily’s List, an organization that encourages women to run for public office. That same organization endorsed Meng in the race.

It was unclear if she would be going to court to contest the board’s findings.

Meng was running on both the Democratic and Independence tickets, but was knocked off the Independence line by a woman named Deborah Davis.

A Forest Hills resident named Joseph Tiraco, also running on the Independence line, was knocked off the ballot after Wang filed objections, leaving the party with no candidates unless Tiraco challenges the findings in court.

Barring any court decisions, the Democratic primary will consist of Meng, Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows), City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman, who survived scrutiny of the board but still faces a court challenge from Lancman.

Jeff Gottlieb, a city BOE employee, dropped out of the race, as did his replacement, Rosedale lawyer Stephen Green.

The Republican ticket consists of City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and the sole Green Party ticket candidate is Evergreen Chou.

Mittman vigorously disputed rumors that he was dropping out of the race after a TimesLedger Newspapers report last week.

“In no way did I drop out of the race,” Mittman said in a phone interview, dismissing the talk as a canard to discredit his campaign.

But last week, TimesLedger placed a call to Mittman’s mother’s house after the doctor did not return several phone calls. The woman who answered the phone at the residence of Tess Mittman would not identify herself, but said Mittman was not running.

A subsequent call placed to Mittman’s Bayside office was answered by another woman who said she was not supposed to be speaking to the press, but conceded the allergist was overwhelmed and that she personally heard Mittman say he was going to pull out of the race.

Susan Silverman, a Bayside lawyer listed as his contact, also said Mittman had been focusing on staying on the ballot and any rumors about him not running were false.

Other hopefuls picked up a flurry of endorsements this week. Crowley was endorsed by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 15, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 210 and Local 553, Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 46, as well as the Transport Workers Union Local 100.

Lancman was endorsed by Teamsters Local Unions 804, 808 and 917 and the Organization of Staff Analysts.

Meng was endorsed by South Asian leaders, including the head of the Alliance of South Asian American Labor and the former head of SAYA!

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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