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Pedaling into petition drive

Forget about winning hearts and minds. At this stage of the game, its all about petition signatures.

The five candidates vying to become Park Slope and Carroll Gardens’ next city legislator have begun recruiting troops for the big petition hunt of 2009.

While some were more flamboyant than others, each candidate held special recruitment drives as well as “how−to−get−petition−signatures” tutorials in recent days so they’re ready to go Tuesday when petition season officially begins.

Between June 9 and July 11 candidates and their supporters will be going block by block, door by door and street festival by street festival looking for the 900 registered Democrats willing to put their name down on a petition and get that candidate on the ballot for the September 15 primary.

Since petition signatures are usually challenged, candidates always try to get three times as many as they actually need, meaning that each candidate is shooting for nearly 3,000.

While there is a hard−and−fast “one Democrat, one signature” rule (there is no double dipping of the pen, especially for a challenger), candidate Bob Zuckerman says there are plenty of Democrats to go around in the 39th Council District.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” he said. “There are 57,000 registered Democrats in the 39th. Even if each of us got 3,000 signatures each, we would have barely scratched the surface.”

Zuckerman said that the best way to get petition signatures is through a solid door−to−door campaign armed with a list of registered Democrats in the district.

“It’s the surest way to know that they are eligible,” he said. “If you get signatures outside a supermarket or a coop, you’re leaving it to chance because you don’t know if they’re registered or if they live in the district.”

That doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing a Zuckerman supporter soliciting signatures at the next neighborhood street fair.

“My goal is to get as many signatures as possible,” he said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”

For some candidates, the signature campaign has already begun.

Last Saturday, candidate Josh Skaller and more than 40 volunteers knocked on almost 3,000 doors during the first day of what they called “SkallerThon.”

Volunteers toured the district on bikes as they spread the word about Skaller’s campaign and said they would be back sometime after Tuesday to collect signatures.

The lengthy ride — the 39th District stretches out from Carroll Gardens and Park Slope to Windsor Terrace, Cobble Hill, Kensington and Borough Park — began and ended at Carroll Park.

Skaller supporters said that they were emboldened to learn that many of the residents they visited have already heard about the campaign.

“We were canvassing in Windsor Terrace, and tons of people said they had met Josh,” said Skaller volunteer Allison Make. “I met someone who had never been involved in a campaign before, and he loved it. He’s going out in the field with Josh next week.”

The evening ended with a party for volunteers in Windsor Terrace hosted by the newly launched “Musicians for Skaller,” a troupe that included nationally acclaimed feminist singer⁄songwriter and Park Slope resident Bev Grant and veteran Carroll Gardens recording artist John Pinamonti.

“My campaign is the biggest grass roots movement in Brooklyn,” Josh Skaller said. “The first weekend of SkallerThon, was our chance to flex our muscles.”

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