2009-07-24 / Top Stories

31st District Council Candidates File With Elections Board

By Miriam Rosenberg

Five candidates, hoping to be the next city councilman to represent the east end of Rockaway, filed petitions last week with New York City's Board of Elections for a spot on the Democratic primary ballot in September.

Four challengers - Marquez Claxton, Michael Duncan, Jacques Lendre and Fred Lewis - along with the incumbent councilman for the 31st District, James Sanders Jr., began the process to win a place on the ballot this fall. While those seeking the seat have taken part in several debates, nothing will be official until the Board of Elections grants each candidate a position on September's ballot.

Mindful of possible challenges, such as those that kept some candidates off the ballot in a special election for councilman in the 32nd District earlier this year, each candidate who responded to The Wave's inquires filed more than the 900 signatures needed for inclusion on the ballot.

Claxton, a former police officer and community activist, told The Wave he handed in approximately 2,900 signatures. "There are so many because of the level of support, that it far exceeded those needed and required," said Claxton.

Duncan, who was formerly Sanders' chief of staff, turned in 2,739 signatures and told this newspaper that, although he expects challenges, he knows he will get on the ballot.

"I have more than enough good signatures," said Duncan.

Sanders' campaign, according to his chief of staff, Donovan Richards, handed in close to 7,000 signatures to the Board of Elections. The incumbent, who is running for a third term because of last year's extension of term limits for city office holders, told The Wave last year that he did not expect any problems in being reelected.

Neither Leandre, a lawyer and activist, nor Lewis, a career civil servant, responded to our requests for signature totals. In addition to meeting the July 16 deadline for petitions, the previous day the candidates filed their most recent financial reports with the city's Campaign Finance Board.

Sanders has so far raised the most with $58,800, while spending $22,635; Leandre has raised $33,025 and spent $28,850; Duncan's campaign has brought in $32,602 with $25,748 used; Claxton's totals are $19,857 raised and $17,963 in expenses and Lewis has raised $10,935 with $8,772 spent.

District 31 includes Far Rockaway, Arverne, Bayswater, Edgemere, Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens.

The primary is September 15 and the general election is on November 3.

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