Claxton Survives Leandre's Petition Challenges
For the last few weeks the east end of Rockaway has had its own version of what happened in the west end's special City Council election earlier this year - one candidate attempting to keep competitors off the ballot.
On Tuesday, after several court appearances over the last couple of weeks to fight challenges from the campaign of Jacques Leandre, Marquez Claxton was granted a place on the September 15 primary ballot for city councilman from the 31st District - which includes Far Rockaway, Arverne, Bayswater and Edgemere.
"They were claiming signatures were illegible and we had to do a line by line check," said Claxton of the objections by the Leandre campaign.
Claxton also told The Wave he "had to get affidavits from several people that [stated] they did in fact sign my petitions." He added that the Leandre campaign even subpoenaed one person who signed his petition.
"They were stalling for the past week and a half instead of acknowledging the signatures were good and ultimately they insisted on dragging things out," continued Claxton.
In a press release, Claxton went on to say that, "The challenges to my petitions were not merely a threat to my aspirations, but an attempt by a lesser candidate to disenfranchise legitimate registered voters in the 31st District. The time and energy spent by my opponents to keep me off the ballot would have been better spent in developing a platform that speaks to the needs of the community.
"What we now know is that our message and platform positions pose a threat to those who want business as usual in the 31st District. They failed to eliminate me from the ballot and they will fail at the voters booth."
Claxton, a community activist and former police officer, told The Wave last month that he had handed in approximately 2,900 signatures - two thousand more than the 900 needed to be on the ballot.
"There are so many because of the level of support, that it far exceeded those needed and required," said Claxton at the time.
He is one of the five Democrats challenging the incumbent, James Sanders Jr., in next month's Democratic primary.
Following the July 16 deadline for filing of petitions with the Board of Elections to be on the September primary ballot, as written in last week's Beachcomber column, Leandre tried to knock the majority of the Democratic candidates off the ballot. Initially, Claxton was taken off because he was, allegedly, short 33 qualified signatures on his petitions. Michael Duncan, Fred Lewis and Lou Gray overcame Leandre's challenges.
When asked by The Wave for his reactions to Claxton being put on the ballot Leandre said, "I haven't given it much thought because I've been focused on getting our message out to the residents of the 31st district. Notwithstanding, if the Board of Election and the Courts have determined that he has 909 valid signatures and he needed 900 signatures, we all respect the decision that was made and welcome him to the slate."