Candidates in District 24 special election receive over $240K in matching funds

stack of dollars spread out
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Five of the eight candidates running in the special election to replace former City Councilman Rory Lancman in eastern Queens were approved for public matching fund payments on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Moumita Ahmed, James Gennaro, Mujib Rahman, Deepti Sharma and Soma Syed, who are all running in the special election for City Council District 24, were all approved for the matching funds program, which pays candidates at an $8 to $1 rate.

Ahmed and Rahman, both of whom are community activists, led the pack, receiving a little over $114,000 and $110,000 respectively in matching funds.

Syed, who serves as president of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association, received around $7,000 in funds, Sharma, a small business advocate, received around $6,000 and Gennaro, a former City Councilman in the district, hauled in around $2,700.

The three candidates in the race who did not qualify for the matching funds this round include real estate agent Michael Brown, district leader Neeta Jain and Dilip Nath, the president of the New American Voters Association.

Though Ahmed pulled in the most matching funds in the latest round of payments, her place on top wasn’t always guaranteed.

Earlier this month, the New York City Campaign Finance Board ruled Ahmed, who has received a slew of endorsements, was ineligible for the matching funds program, as reported by THE CITY.

Citing the shared address of 48 of the donors, the board ruled that Ahmed had fewer than the 75 individual donations made to her campaign needed to be eligible for the matching funds. However, Ahmed’s campaign asserted that the donations were made by Ahmed’s neighbors living inside the same apartment building her and her family have lived for the past 22 years.

The campaign knocked on every one of the 48 donors’ doors and got every contribution notarized as proof, according to the campaign. The board reversed their ruling and granted Ahmed’s campaign the matching funds.

“Our campaign is very proud to have received more individual donations — 652 — than any of our competitors,” said Dave Robin, Ahmed’s campaign manager. “And because we are running an aspirational campaign to lift up the voices of working-class families in Queens, we also have the lowest average donation at $59.”

Thursday’s payment was the second made in the race and, in total, candidates in the special election have received $865,381 in matching funds from the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

The Campaign Finance Board uses public money to match contributions made by residents in the district, paying candidates $8 for $1 for the first $175 raised from an individual donor.

In order to qualify for the program, candidates must raise at least 75 contributions from district residents and $5,000 in match-eligible funds. Candidates must also meet individual contribution limits and not take money from corporations, limited liability companies or partnerships.

The special election in District 24, which included parts of Kew Gardens Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills and Jamaica, will be the first in New York City to use ranked-choice voting, a ballot system that allows voters to rank their top five choice, one through five, instead of picking only one candidate.

Learn more about the race, including how and where to vote, here.