By Mark Hallum
The city Board of Elections ruled in a hearing Tuesday that state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) could remain on the ballot for re-election after an opponent contended that she lacked the required number of valid signatures in her petitions. The challenges were raised by her Democratic foe, S.J. Jung and other residents within the district, who claimed the signatures to qualify her for re-election were illegible or had addresses outside of the district, leaving only 13 out of 3,519 valid.
Commissioners from the BOE, however, determined that Stavisky had more than enough valid signatures to make it on the ballot. A minimum of 1,000 signatures is required, a goal which Jung also met.
The 16th Senate district runs through Flushing west to Woodside and east to Glen Oaks.
Jung stirred the pot last week when he accused Stavisky of botching her petition drive to the point where she should be thrown off the ballot. A Friday news conference was held at the steps of the City Board of Elections building in Kew Gardens to call upon the agency to engage in a thorough review of the incumbent’s petitions filed in July, which Jung argued had an abundance of signatures from out of the district, as well as up to 655 individuals who have yet registered to vote.
The attorney representing Jung’s campaign stood before the BOE commissioners at the Manhattan hearing Tuesday and said he believed all the disputed signatures deemed valid by the city agency were incorrectly designated to which the commissioners reacted with confusion.
“Just saying that you’re challenging this ruling, you have to provide some information as to what this erroneous determination was,” one board member at the hearing said.
The Jung campaign marked signatures which they contended had illegible addresses, many of which the BOE had tracked down to the individual and verified the information with the signature. One BOE member maintained that since the board was able to confirm the signature by contracting the signer and the attorney was not able to do this, then the board’s ruling would be final.
Jung’s attorney argued that he had not been given enough time to work on checking the signatures approved by the board because they had only received the worksheet to do so the day before and did not have specific objections.. Queens BOE Commissioner Jose Miguel Araujo had evidence in front of him showing that the worksheet was faxed on Friday, July 29, four days before the Aug. 2 hearing..
Jung also took advantage of the Friday news conference to challenge nepotism among Board of Elections officials, such as the case of Araujo being fined $10,000 in 2014 for hiring his wife. But the meeting soon went back on track when Jung led those in attendance to the 11th floor of the BOE’s Kew Gardens office, and crowded the lobby with reporters and supporters to hand deliver a letter to Araujo, asking for an unbiased review of Stavisky’s petitions.
“The primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall