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Petitions in the 40th and 45th city council districts were counted, weighed and measured, but the only one found seriously wanting belonged to an East Flatbush cab driver with dreams of trading in his hack license for a City Hall corner office.
Officials from the Board of Elections confirmed this week that 45th District candidate Godwin Williams has been booted off the ballot, bringing the number of challengers against City Council incumbent Kendall Stewart down to six.
In a twist of political irony, Williams only had one challenge filed against his petitions, but that was all that was needed to torpedo his chances at the September 15 primary.
The other half-dozen challengers, which included Rodrick Daley, Ernest Emmanuel, Erlene King, Dexter McKenzie, Samuel Taitt and Jumaane Williams (no relation to Godwin), all had multiple challenges filed against their petitions.
McKenzie had the most challenges, with four people claiming the signatures he collected were rife with problems.
All of the candidates had to hand in a minimum of 900 signatures to get on the ballot. Most candidates got three times that amount in an attempt to survive a line-by-line count the Board of Elections conducted this week.
A total of 23 challenges were filed against all of the candidates in the 45th District, which encompasses Flatbush, East Flatbush and Flatlands, for a variety of inaccuracies.
Many of the challenges were thrown out because – in pure Board of Elections fashion – they were not submitted properly, officials said.
The challenges that were handed in properly sparked a line-by-line review of petition signatures. While hundreds of them were invalidated, the candidates still had enough to get on the ballot.
Godwin Williams’ petitions, however, had a “fatal defect,” said Board of Elections President Frederick Umane. On several of the petition sheets, he didn’t indicate the number of the council district he was running in.
“This is an important piece of information,” said Umane. “We can’t guess where he’s planning to run.”
Williams representative John Williams (still no relation) was outraged that his client’s hopes at getting on the ballot were dashed by a clerical error.
“What about the voters?” he asked Umane this week at the Board of Elections. “[Is this defect] important for you or for the voters?”
Umane responded saying Williams could “always go to court” to appeal their decision.
Attempts to reach John Williams were unsuccessful as this paper went to press.
Over in the 40th District, which includes the rest of East Flatbush, as well as Kensington and Ditmas Park, incumbent Mathieu Eugene and challengers Rock Hackshaw and L. Rickie Tulloch all survived signature inspections.
Supporters of Eugene’s opponents filed seven challenges against his petitions, but many were discarded because they too were submitted improperly, said former Brooklyn State Senator Marty Connor, an election attorney representing Eugene’s campaign.
After a line-by-line count was done, Eugene had 2,500 legitimate signatures – much more than needed.
“I had more petition signatures than anybody else,” Eugene said. “I’m confident that I am going to win so I can continue to do what I’ve been doing my whole life – serving people.”
Hackshaw, a blogger and longtime critic of borough politics, said he filed 2,700 signatures, but the Board of Elections said that only 1,200 were valid.
“I believe I had another 400 or 500 that were valid, but [the Board of Elections] didn’t,” said Hackshaw, who, after being knocked off the ballot in a previous election, made sure that he had enough valid signatures to get on the ballot this time around.
“They’re not going to get me off the ballot,” he said. “I’m too old a fox for that game.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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