(UPDATED) Council candidate, booted off ballot over late filing, trying to get back on

Bessie Schachter, pictured at last month’s debate next to fellow candidate Jeff Mailman (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

UPDATE July 27 at 2:15 p.m.: Schachter contacted Town & Village on Thursday afternoon to say she was reinstated by court order.

By Sabina Mollot

On July 13, all candidates running for City Council races were required to submit petitions with a minimum of 450 signatures — or more if they expected to ward off challenges.

But one candidate, who said she actually got over 5,000 signatures, was knocked off the ballot for filing her paperwork a day late, and is now attempting to fight her way back on. That candidate, Bessie Schachter, told Town & Village she does expect to be on the ballot in the September 12 primary, though, calling the problem a “minor, technical” one.

According to an employee at the New York City Board of Elections, Schachter was removed on July 20 for responding a day late to a noncompliance notice. The notice had indicated a problem with her petition’s cover sheet, since cover sheets must mention how many volumes are included, and each volume must have its own identification number. Schachter had to have filed it within a three-day notice period that ended on July 19, but she filed the next evening, he said.

BOE employee Matthew Graves stated that at this point she would have to show a validating cause of order from a State Supreme Court judge to overturn the board’s decision. There is a fee of somewhere between $300 and $400 to do this, he added, not to mention the cost of hiring an attorney. However, Schachter has gotten such an order to get a hearing that’s been scheduled for July 27. The judge’s decision may not happen for days, though, Graves said.

Schachter did not respond to a request from Town & Village for an update on the situation.

However, Keith Powers, another candidate, reiterated his distaste for the current petitioning process after hearing about Schachter’s dilemma.

“This is more proof that we definitely need reform to our election laws,” said Powers. ”No one should be disqualified for a minor technicality. This process is difficult enough.”

Previously, Powers has said if elected, he would do away with a current petitioning rule of invalidating a signature if the same person has already signed another candidate’s signature.

This week, he added that petitioning shouldn’t be necessary at all. Instead, he recommended that candidates prove their earnestness by getting 75 small-dollar donations from in-district voters. By doing this, he suggested, “You have demonstrated grassroots support in the district.”

Powers and Schachter are among a crowded field of 10 candidates, nine of them Democrats, running for the City Council seat occupied by Dan Garodnick, who’s getting term-limited out.

Republican candidate Melissa Jane Kronfeld dropped out of the race earlier this month.

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