2009-01-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Attempting to Buy A Local Election?

The upcoming special election to fill, for less than a year, the City Council seat vacated by Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. when he won election to the State Senate, is like no other election. Because there are typically only 5,000 or so votes cast in such an election; and because there is no incumbent involved; and because there are seven people in the race, whoever can turn out a relatively small number of supporters can win. There is no run-off in this election. The one with the most votes wins, even should that person not get a majority. Do the math yourself. Five thousand votes divided by seven candidates equals approximately 700 votes per candidate. In a situation such as that, the candidate that can poll 850 votes wins. That is why it is disturbing that one candidate seems to be willing to outspend all the others combined, which touches off a fear in some that the candidate, virtually unknown prior to the election, is trying to buy the election. That candidate is Mike Ricatto, who has raised $98,085 in public funds for the special election and has already spent $96,190. That is more than all the other five candidates who have disclosed, combined. Money buys advertising and exposure, two things that are necessary in a quick and intense campaign. It also buys access to the halls of power and endorsements. The second highest amount of money spent so far was by Eric Ulrich, the mainland Republican leader, who spent nearly $50,000. Of the Rockaway candidates, Lew Simon has spent $11,218 at press time, Glenn DiResto has spent $3,644 and Geraldine Chapey, who has raised more than $21,000, has not spent a penny, according to her filings with the Campaign Finance Board. Sam DiBernardo's fundraising and spending are "undisclosed" because he is not participating in the Campaign Finance Board program. We hope that the best man or woman wins, but we hope more fervently that it is not possible to buy a City Council seat simply by outspending all of your rivals.

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