2003-08-08 / Front Page

Brown, Sanders In District 31 Ballot Battle

Challenger Pickets Incumbent's Home In Dispute
By Howard Schwach
Brown, Sanders In District 31 Ballot Battle

Challenger Pickets Incumbent's Home
in Dispute

In the 2001 election in the 31 Councilmanic District, James Sanders, Jr., the Democratic Party candidate, beat Republican Everly Brown by more than 14,000 votes, polling 86 percent of the ballots cast.

Now, Brown wants to challenge Sanders again, not only as the Republican candidate (a line he already holds), but as the Democratic candidate as well.

He is charging Sanders with working with Queens Democratic leaders to keep him off the Democratic Party ballot.

Brown, who says that he is the victim of a "political lynching," picketed Sander's Rockaway home last Saturday.

Like everything else involved in the controversy, the truth of what happened in the picketing event is elusive.

"We had 35 people picketing Sander's house," Brown told The Wave on Monday, as he was waiting to go into another hearing on his candidacy in Queens Supreme Court in Jamaica.

"There were ten pickets," an eyewitness neighbor of Sanders, who asked not to be identified, said. "Six of them were children under fifteen years of age." Police say there were 15 protesters.

Brown says that he has 1,031 valid signatures, 131 more than the requirement for 900 signatures of party members.

Sanders, however, says that the people who collected the signatures committed fraud, that many of them are not party members.

"These were just kids who were collecting signatures for me because they believe in my candidacy," Brown retorts.

"Sanders is humiliating the people who he represents by trying to force me off the ballot," Brown told The Wave. "It is demeaning and unfair."

"I don't want them to put me on the ballot because they love me," he added. "I want to be on the ballot because I deserve to be there. Sanders needs to beat me in the poll, not in court."

Sanders, of course, does not agree with his opponent.

"The law of the land says that you need 900 valid Democratic signatures to run as a Democrat," he said. "There are serious allegations of fraud in his petitions."

"If you have those 900 valid signatures, then you are on the ballot," Sanders added. "If not, then demonstrations and picketing are false issues."

Chris Riley, spokesperson for the Board of Elections, told The Wave on Thursday that nothing official had been decided as yet, and Brown had not been removed from the Democratic ballot for the November election.

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