By Sabina Mollot
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney will have only one challenger on the ballot during the June primary thanks to a lawsuit filed by one of her Democratic opponents, Suraj Patel, last month.
Patel had actually filed two lawsuits against two would-be candidates, Sander Hicks and Peter Lindner, alleging they didn’t have enough valid signatures on their petitions. As it turned out, the court agreed, with Judge Edgar G. Walker of the Kings Supreme Court in Brooklyn noting Hicks had only 1,140 valid signatures, which was 110 fewer than he needed. After the suit was filed last month, Hicks told Town & Village that he had gotten nearly 2,100 signatures and was confident this was more than enough.
Technically, the minimum for congressional candidates is only 1,250 but candidates know they have to get more if they expect to beat the inevitable challenges from opponents or their supporters. Signatures can be invalidated for a number of reasons, including if the person signing doesn’t live in the district or if that same person has previously signed another candidate’s petition.
Following the judge’s decision, Hicks, a small business owner and self-described peace activist from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, told Town & Village he plans to run as an independent candidate instead. He said he also would be meeting with and debating the other opponents. To get on the ballot, he’ll need to start the process of petitioning again on June 19 and file between June 24 and 31. Had he wanted to keep running as a Democrat, he’d need to have the court decision overturned at the Appellate Court.
Meanwhile, even without Patel’s lawsuit, Lindner, a computer programmer from Union Square, still wouldn’t have been able to remain on the ballot since he’d already been knocked off by the Board of Elections for insufficient valid signatures. The BOE said he had under 500 and that he also modified a document in the required paperwork to read “perhaps.”
Asked if he planned to challenge the judge’s decision, Lindner, who was running mainly so he can get a federal judge he believes is corrupt impeached, responded via email, “I might.”
Initially, Patel had filed general objections to Lindner’s and Hicks’ petitions as well as Maloney’s. He later went on to follow up with specific complaints on Lindner’s and Hicks’.
A spokesperson for the Patel campaign, Lis Smith, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the suit, other than to acknowledge the court’s decision and refer questions to the Board of Elections. However, she’d previously said the suits were filed because the BOE wasn’t enforcing its own rules “unless forced to by a candidate.” A spokesperson for Maloney’s campaign declined to comment on the lawsuits. A candidate list on the BOE’s website was updated on Thursday, May 10 to reflect that there are now just two candidates.
Patel is an East Village resident and an attorney, who worked for former President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and he also owns 12 motels around the country with relatives and other partners. Maloney, an Upper East Side resident and former City Council member, has held onto her seat in Congress for 25 years.