Candidates say they’ve earned spot on ballot

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Well, that was fast.

With close to a month to go, eager City Council hopefuls are proudly −− perhaps too proudly −− reporting that they’ve already gotten enough signatures to get on the ballot, warping their success at getting signatures into a barometer of how well they’re doing in the five−man fight.

City Council candidate Brad Lander reported Monday that his campaign had already collected more than the 900 signatures required to get on the Democratic primary ballot this September. The petitioning phase of the campaign began on June 9 and continues until July 11.

“I am thrilled that we were able to qualify in such a short period of time and particularly proud that this was a grassroots effort, driven entirely by volunteers,” he said in a statement.

But, watch out, Brad −− Josh Skaller has got you beat.

According to his people, Skaller got 1,000 signatures on the very first day.

“By noon that day, we had people coming back to us with hundreds of signatures,” a campaign spokesman said. “On a conservative guess, we have about 3,000 signatures right now. People are motivated by [Skaller’s] message of positive change and reform and they’re responding.”

By Wednesday, it looked like all of the candidates in the 39th Council District, which also includes Bob Zuckerman, John Heyer and Gary Reilly, will all have the necessary signatures to get on the ballot. With 57,000 registered Democrats living in the 39th District, it’s pretty easy to get the 3,000 most people get to fend off challenges.

“We’re doing fine,” said Zuckerman, who said he never saw the petitioning phase as a ruler for success. “It’s not a case of whoever gets the most signatures wins. You get the signatures and assuming there’s no funny business, everyone gets on the ballot. The important thing is that you’re out on the street and knocking on doors.”

Zuckerman said that he doesn’t believe that the candidates will file challenges, which is sometimes considered a dirty by−product of the petitioning phase. Over the years, there have been many candidates who was forced to drop out the race when another candidate challenged the validity of the petitions. In some instances, the petitions are challenged in court, which costs candidates money that they could have used campaigning.

“I would find it surprising in a district like this with so many reformers that someone would consider challenging petitions,” Zuckerman said.

“Our goal is to get about three to four thousand and I think we’re about a third of the way there,” said Heyer, who said that, thanks to the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, his petitions are being combined with William Thompson for Mayor, Bill de Blasio for Public Advocate and David Yassky for Comptroller. A signature for one of them is a signature for all of them.

“The only drawback has been the weather,” he explained. “Some of our volunteers are coming back with colds, including myself. Two days ago I could barely speak.”

“Something we are learning is that there are a lot of Democrats who live in the district who are not registered here,” Heyer said. “They’re registered wherever they grew up or went to school or they think they’re registered here, but have moved a few times and are not registered in the 39th.”

But those are the ones who stop to sign. There are those at local train stations who walk right on by. Some even give strange looks.

“You ask them to sign and they look at you as if you’re asking them for a pint a blood,” he said.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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