Maloney touts experience in bid for reelection

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, pictured outside her home on the Upper East Side (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While hardly an open seat, the race for candidates hoping to represent the 12th Congressional District (most of Manhattan’s East Side as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens) is proving to be a competitive one. While the Democrat primary on June 26 has just two candidates, the only reason there are just two names on the ballot is that one of them, Suraj Patel, sued successfully against another candidate, Sander Hicks, claiming he didn’t have enough valid signatures. He did the same to an additional candidate, Peter Lindner, though he’d already been booted off the ballot by the Board of Elections. This leaves Patel, a hospitality executive who also worked on both election campaigns for the Obama administration, and Carolyn Maloney, the 25-year incumbent.

On this, Maloney, while interviewed at her home on the Upper East Side last week, mused, “For someone who said he wants more participation, I’m mystified why he’s throwing his opponent off the ballot.”

Meanwhile, Patel has also been fundraising like crazy, outpacing Maloney in recent months and trying to engage people who wouldn’t normally vote.

As for Maloney, perhaps in part due to her history of clobbering challengers at the polls, she has managed to rack up just about every endorsement there is to be had from elected officials, unions, women’s organizations and local clubs. She’s also gotten the nod from Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem.

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Alyssa Milano pushes for Maloney ERA bill

Alyssa Milano, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Carol Robles-Roman, co-president of the ERA Coalition, by the Fearless Girl statue (Photo by Grace Harman)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Alyssa Milano has joined in the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), legislation  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has introduced 11 times she has been in office. Maloney, the bill’s lead sponsor in Congress, was joined by the “Charmed” actress, along with the ERA Coalition and activists at the Fearless Girl statue on Monday to call for the ratification of the bill. This was a few days prior to a “shadow hearing,” or unofficial hearing Maloney held for the ERA on Wednesday.

Although the amendment passed Congress in 1972, only 35 states ratified it. Thirty-eight states need to ratify it to amend the Constitution. The right to vote is currently the only right guaranteed to women in the Constitution and the ERA would guarantee that Constitutional rights apply equally to all persons regardless of their gender.

“This is an economic issue,” argued Milano on Monday. “When women earn more, it stimulates the economy and this would provide equal pay for women. Discriminatory laws are being enacted all the time but the ERA would put women on an equal footing.”

In addition to Milano, co-president of the ERA Coalition Carol Robles-Román and Jessica Lenahan, plaintiff in Supreme Court Case Castle Rock v. Gonzales, also testified at the hearing on Wednesday.

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Republican small business owner challenging Maloney

Eliot Rabin at his Upper East Side shop for women (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

In June, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney will face off against fellow Democrat Suraj Patel, but already another opponent has joined the race, this one a Republican who’s gotten the backing of Manhattan GOP.

That candidate, who’s just getting started petitioning and organizing his campaign, is Eliot Rabin, also known to some as Peter Elliot, which is his retail business on the Upper East Side.

Rabin, who’s run upscale clothing boutiques in the neighborhood since the 1970s and worked in the fashion industry in other capacities even longer, was motivated to run for office after the latest high school shooting massacre.

“After Florida, I exploded,” he said, while sitting for an interview at his women’s boutique on Madison Avenue and 81st Street. “There’s a lack of moral courage in our government.”

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Maloney opponent knocks other Dem off ballot

Congressional candidate Suraj Patel (second to left) has successfully sued two others who’d hoped to run in the primary against Carolyn Maloney, Sander Hicks and Peter Lindner. Both are now off the ballot although Lindner was already knocked off by the Board of Elections. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

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.

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Maloney opponent suing 2 other Dems

By Sabina Mollot

The congressional seat representing New York’s 12th District that’s been held by Carolyn Maloney for a quarter century now has truly proven to be the hot seat. In a June primary, she is facing two candidates: Suraj Patel, a former employee of the Obama administration who owns a dozen motels with his family and other partners, and Sander Hicks, a small business owner and former independent publisher. Then there’s Peter Lindner, a computer programmer who ran against Maloney in 2016 and was hoping to do so again.

However, on April 24, Patel filed lawsuits against Lindner and Hicks, which according to a spokesperson for Patel, is charging insufficient and invalid petitions.

In the case of Lindner, Patel’s rep, Lis Smith, added, “The Lindner campaign failed to file the required number of signatures to be on the ballot this June 26. Unfortunately, the Board of Elections won’t enforce its own rules unless another candidate demands it, which we have. We look forward to a spirited election where Democrats have a real choice for Congress for the first time in a decade.”

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Maloney opponents square off at forum

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Democratic congressional candidates hoping to replace incumbent Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney squared off in a debate at the end of March sans the Congresswoman herself, who was originally confirmed for the event but ultimately told the organizers there was a conflict in her schedule.

The two candidates who did appear, Sander Hicks and Suraj Patel, debated at a monthly meeting for the Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan at the Seafarer’s International House at the end of March. Arthur Schwartz, chair of the organization, moderated the discussion and geared some of the talking points to broader, national issues for a change of pace because the group generally only has a chance to discuss local politics, with the candidates discussing the direction of the Democratic Party as well as healthcare, voter participation and advocating for the disabled.

Supporters of former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are a substantial contingent of the members of NYPAN, with one debate attendee pointing out her tattoo of the Vermont Senator, and Schwartz put emphasis on this early in the debate, asking if the candidates had considered how these progressive voters would be represented in the Democratic National Committee.

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Students participate in March For Our Lives

Protesters on Central Park West (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Young students and gun control advocates participated in the March For Our Lives on the Upper West Side this past Saturday, calling on Congress to pass stricter gun laws. Mayor Bill de Blasio posted on Twitter following the march that 175,000 New Yorkers had participated in the protest.

The rally prior to the official march along Central Park West to Columbus Circle included survivors from the Parkland shooting, as well as survivors from the Las Vegas and Sandy Hook shootings. Volunteers for the march were also wandering through the crowd encouraging participants, especially high school students about to turn 18, to register to vote and helping them fill out the appropriate paperwork.

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Maloney trying to pass women’s equality bill… for the 11th time

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney (center) with Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and Girl Scouts of Greater New York CEO Meridith Maskara (Photo courtesy of Carolyn Maloney)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is calling on her colleagues to pass a federal and state Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which despite having been introduced at the federal level 11 times by Maloney, has yet to even get a vote.

Alongside Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and the New York Girl Scouts at the Fearless Girl statue in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, Maloney emphasized that the only right guaranteed to women in the Constitution is the right to vote. The amendment, she argued, would prohibit denying equal rights to women under the law by ensuring that government programs and federal resources benefit men and women equally and would guarantee equal footing for women in the legal systems of all 50 states.

While the bill was passed by Congress in 1972, it was three states short of ratification and has still not been brought to a vote. Maloney noted on Saturday, however, that her legislation has 28 new co-sponsors as of last Friday, for a total of 144, and Nevada ratified the amendment just last year, bringing the number of states needed for ratification down to two.

The bill needs to pass two successive legislatures and be brought to an election in New York to pass on the state level.

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Maloney’s former opponent writes book about race

By Sabina Mollot

Two years ago Robert Ardini, a marketing executive, was running a campaign against Carolyn Maloney for her long-held seat in Congress. The Republican political outsider ultimately only got 16.08 percent of the vote, but said he learned a number of lessons from the race, which he has since outlined in a new book called Running for Congress in Trump’s Backyard.

Ardini, formerly a Manhattanite who now lives in Long Island City, spoke with Town & Village about the book, which was semi-self-published through CreateSpace. This means while the book faced editorial scrutiny from the South Carolina-based publisher, Ardini still held most of the control. He also said he wanted to do the promotion for the book himself, which he’s just begun.

He said he wrote the book for the following reasons.

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As students protest, gun safety legislation languishes

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney with student protesters in Washington (Photo courtesy of Congress Member Carolyn Maloney)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been pushing for stronger gun laws for years, was in Albany on Wednesday negotiating Republican-proposed budget measures as the walkouts were taking place. His own second-grade daughter Silvia Hoylman-Sigal was participating in one of them at her school.

However, when reached on the phone, Hoylman said that gun control bills, including his own, have recently been blocked by the Republican majority before they could even be heard on the floor.

This includes his own legislation, co-sponsored with State Senator Brian Kavanagh, which would allow families and law enforcement officials to intervene when a person known to be dangerous has a gun.

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Candidate blasts Maloney on Israel, Middle East

Sander Hicks

By Sabina Mollot

In the race for the Congressional seat occupied by Carolyn Maloney, one of two of her Democrat challengers believes there’s a lot she’s wrong about.

Sander Hicks, a political activist who runs a carpentry businesses based in Maspeth, openly admits to being on the offensive. This is after having been advised by supporters, including his father Norman Hicks, a former World Bank economist, to “stop being so nice,” he explained.

Additionally, Hicks, 47, said, although he insisted he is trying to run a positive campaign based on “respect for all religions” (he identifies as Quaker and interfaith) he has also found Maloney to be unresponsive to concerns from constituents like himself.

Maloney, he noted, never directly responded when he called her office about long-classified documents from a Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 attacks that were finally released in 2016, known as the “28 pages.” Instead, Hicks said, he was passed around from one office employee to the next until, finally a year later, he got a form letter response. However, it wasn’t even on the issue he’d brought up, but about Maloney’s Zadroga Act for 9/11 responder healthcare.

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Maloney’s opponent focused on immigrants’ rights, gun control

Suraj Patel, pictured at his campaign office in the East Village, has raised over $550,000. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who’s easily held her seat for 25 years, will be facing two challengers in the June primary. One of them is Suraj Patel, an East Village resident and entrepreneur, who insists that it’s not the incumbent he’s challenging, but the status quo.

“People say competition is great for democracy, but technically it’s required for it to have any meaning,” he told Town & Village this week. “A lot of people ask, ‘Why are you challenging an incumbent?’ I’m challenging a party. I couldn’t wait my turn anymore.”

Patel, who’s also an attorney (though he doesn’t practice much), has some experience in politics, having worked as an advance associate for former President Barack Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012. These days, he’s an assistant adjunct professor of business ethics at New York University’s Stern Business School and also hosts a lecture series on voting rights called “Talks on Law.” He also owns, with his family, Sun Group, a company that owns motel franchises around the country. At this time, he said there are 12 motels operated by the hospitality group, some of them with partners, though none are in New York City.

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Johnson inaugurated as Council Speaker

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and other elected officials at his inauguration (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Chelsea Councilmember Corey Johnson was inaugurated as Speaker at FIT’s Haft Theater last weekend, becoming the first openly HIV-positive elected official in the position. Johnson pledged to fight for affordable housing, small businesses and fixes for the MTA.

“These problems are incredibly complex and by confronting them, we will ensure that New Yorkers have good paying jobs, healthcare and good schools,” he said. “The city, state and federal governments have to work together to fix the subways. No person should be stopped and frisked. It’s our responsibility to stand up for immigrants, women, people who are transgender, seniors and the poor.”

Johnson especially stressed the importance of renewing the rent laws in state capital.

“We need to press Albany to renew the rent laws,” he said. “We need to close the loopholes that give landlords the ability to deregulate thousands of apartments a year.”

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Maloney: Government shutdown would hurt economy and it’s all GOP’s fault

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday at noon, after the government was technically shut down for two days, the Senate agreed to end the stalemate over a spending bill, with the Congress expected to follow, according to multiple reports.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has been in Washington, where she spent the weekend prepping for the Monday vote.

Earlier that morning, the representative of Manhattan’s East Side spoke with Town & Village on how government shutdowns hurt the economy, and why she, like other Democrats, blame Republicans for the mess (who in turn blame Democrats).

Reached on the phone at around 10 a.m., Maloney said, “Right now we are trying to get the government open again. You have to continue funding it.”

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Local pols shoot to kill weaker gun restrictions

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is fighting for proposed legislation. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In response to the deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, local elected officials joined Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in trying to push tighter federal gun restrictions.

“Congress’s first priority should be to keep people safe, but when it comes to gun violence we are failing miserably,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, while at a press conference on Saturday near Union Square Park’s Gandhi statue.

She added, “We need to pass common sense, effective reforms like universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and stricter gun trafficking laws. These will help save lives, while at the same time respect the Second Amendment.”

The House was scheduled to consider legislation that would reduce current restrictions on buying silencers last week but postponed bringing it up because of the massacre the previous weekend.

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