Club leaders are experts on how to get candidates on the ballot
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
If you want to run for public office, you first have to get your name on the ballot.
Supporters of political candidates all over the city are starting the tedious process of going to door collecting signatures on nominating petitions to secure a spot on the ballot, but in Bay Ridge, local Democrats are turning “petitioning” into an educational opportunity.
Led by Justin Brannan, the Bay Ridge Democrats Club is busy schooling political novices in the fine art of collecting signatures on petitions.
On Wednesday night, club members met at the Bay Ridge home of Joanne Seminara, Democratic district leader of the 64th Assembly District (Bay Ridge-Staten Island) to go over the dos and don’ts of petitioning. “If you've never petitioned before, don't worry. We will work with you to make sure you know all you need to know about how to petition,” Brannan wrote in an email to club members this week. Brannan called the session, "Petitioning 101."
Candidates must get a certain number of viable signatures on petitions from voters registered in their parties in order to secure a place on the ballot for the election this November. In other words, Republicans can't sign Democrats' petitions, Democrats aren't allowed to sign Republicans' petitions and residents who are not registered to vote aren't supposed to sign any petitions. If a candidate doesn't turn the required number of signatures into the New York City Board of Elections, he or she can be thrown off the ballot. Political enemies have taken each other to court to challenge the validity of petition signatures.
“There's a lot on the line this year and collecting signatures is where it all starts. It's not sexy and it sure ain't glamorous but this is how the sausage is made,” Brannan wrote to his members.
Brannan’s club has endorsed a slate of candidates, including Seminara, who is running for another term as district leader. Other candidates the club is backing include Jamie Kemmerer, who is running for state senate in the 22nd District against Republican-Conservative incumbent Marty Golden (Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn), and Marybeth Melendez, who is challenging Republican-Conservativeincumbent Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis in the 64th Assembly District.
“The club is very happy with our slate and we look forward to supporting the campaigns of our candidates from now until Election Day. Each of these candidates has demonstrated to the club that they share the same values that we do about open and honest government, political reform, and support for outer-borough neighborhoods,” Brannan said.