Archive for the tag 'primary elections'

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

The race for the 45th District of the State Assembly lives on!

Ben Akselrod, a Democrat, has scored the Republican nomination for the 45th Assembly race, allowing him to continue his challenge against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz until election day on November 4.

Akselrod, president of the Bay Democrats political club, received the most write-in votes – 46 in all – during the Republican primary, allowing him to steal the GOP line for the general election.

There were no candidates backed by the party in the primary, which would normally mean there is no primary and thus no general election candidate. But Republican voters, which sources say were organized by the Akselrod campaign, filed petitions requesting an “opportunity to ballot,” forcing the party to hold a primary to gather write-in votes. The results of the write-ins became public last week.

Steven Cymbrowitz received the second highest amount of write-in votes with 27. There were 11 more write-ins who received one vote each, and Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon snagged two write-in votes. Another 31 write-ins were illegible.

That allows Akselrod to move forward to the general election, but it’s still not clear if he’s going to actively campaign for the seat. Akselrod has not returned a request for comment.

The latest campaign filing for Akselrod shows he only has $3,986.22 on hand. Cymbrowitz, meanwhile, has $36,650.18.

Ozzie Heymann, Akselrod’s campaign manager during the primary, said he wasn’t sure of the candidate’s plans and if he’ll be involved in the general election campaign.

“I don’t know that there would be a campaign. If there would be, I assume that I would be involved. But that hasn’t been decided yet,” Heymann said.

Another close Akselrod supporter, Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, said Akselrod is unlikely to have a decision before October 15, when the Jewish holidays end. That would leave less than a month to campaign.

The development itself also puts Kagan in an awkward position. In 2012, Kagan unseated longtime district leader Michael Geller, largely on the criticism that Geller had a record of supporting Republican candidates. Now his good friend, political ally, and the chosen president of his Democratic club is running on the GOP line.

Kagan, who is openly critical of Cymbrowitz, said he will stay on the sidelines if Akselrod decides to campaign.

“I’m the Democratic district leader, a strong democrat,” said Kagan. “If [Akselrod] runs as a Republican, there’s a 99 percent chance that I will not support the Republican nominee. But that doesn’t mean I will support the Democratic nominee. I never said anywhere I would just support anyone.”

Kagan also said that he and Akselrod previously discussed the possibility that Akselrod would win the Republican line, and it comes with a consequence.

“If he decides to run on the Republican line, he’ll resign from the Bay Democrats. That’s for sure,” he said.

Despite losing the primary election to Cymbrowitz in 2012, Akselrod was able to move onto the general election on the Independence Party line. That created a three-way race with Russ Gallo as a Republican. Gallo and Akselrod combined took home just shy of 45 percent of the vote, while Cymbrowitz took 55 percent of the vote. Akselrod alone had 19 percent of the vote.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Nobody beats the ‘witz, at least not in the 2014 primary elections.

Fourteen-year incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz won his party’s nod for reelection to the 45th Assembly District last night in one of the closest elections in the borough. But it was a solid victory for the local pol, who bested challenger Ben Akselrod by a margin nearly double that won during his 2012 matchup against the same candidate.

Cymbrowitz gave his victory speech just before 11pm last night, when his team had tallied up initial reports from approximately 70 percent of precincts.

“It was a terrific campaign. We more than doubled our victory from two years ago,” he said of the preliminary numbers that came in before all votes were counted. “I want to thank every part of my community … This was really very, very special.”

Preliminary results from the Board of Elections show Cymbrowitz with 2,137 votes, or 57.2 percent of the total, versus Ben Akselrod’s 1,599 votes, or 42.8 percent. In both percentage and actual votes, Cymbrowitz showed sizable gains over his opponent, who he beat by just eight points, or 294 votes in 2012. The margin this year was 538 votes, or 14 points.

Voters may not have seen the last of Ben Akselrod in this campaign season, however. The candidate filed an opportunity to ballot on the Republican line, a procedure that could have him in the general election if he organized enough write-in votes from Republican voters yesterday. The Board of Election will take several weeks to count, review and certify those ballots to make it official.

The win appeared to surprise some political observers, who believed Cymbrowitz’s strength had been diminished by the growing political influence of Russian and Jewish voters in the district that they believed would fall more heavily to Askelrod, who is both Russian and Orthodox Jewish.

It was a tough fought and, at times, nasty campaign, with allegations of voter harassment on the Sabbath, mysterious race-tinged fliers, and anonymous phone calls that attacked the incumbent’s wife for not being Jewish.

Cymbrowitz alluded to one of those negative attacks in his victory speech.

“I particularly want to thank [my wife] Vilma for not only being a great support, but keeping her cool when she had to when the attacks started coming,” he said.

Cymbrowitz will now move on to the general elections on November 4, where he’ll face off against Mikhail Usher, who is running on the Conservative Party line, and possibly Akselrod on the Republican line.

Primary Day is upon us, so we’ve compiled some information to make voting as easy as possible.

  • Polls are open from 6am to 9pm. You can find where you should vote, as well as see a sample ballot, here. For example, neighbors living in the 45th Assembly District (Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Midwood) are going to see a ballot that looks like this.
  • If you need further help locating your polling place, you can call the city’s voter phone bank at 866-VOTE-NYC.
  • The city Campaign Finance Board also has a good resource page, detailing how and where to vote, who your candidates are, district maps and more.
  • The city Board of Elections has said that polling places should be accessible to handicapped voters, but if you find barriers to voting, you can call the Brooklyn Board of Elections at (718) 797-8800.
  • Additionally, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office will operate a statewide election day hotline, at which you can speak with attorneys about problems at the polls, which will be open until the polls close at 9pm. Schneiderman is encouraging voters to report issues or problems at polls by calling (800) 771-7755 or emailing civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time until 9pm.

And, of course, if you encounter problems at the polls, you can let us know in the comments below or by emailing editor@sheepsheadbites.com.

Statewide Races

Every Democrat in New York State has the opportunity to vote in today’s primary, in which Governor Andrew Cuomo is being challenged for the party’s nod on the left by both Zephyr Teachout and Randy Credico. Cuomo is expected to win by a wide margin, but the race is being seen as a measure of dissatisfaction against the incumbent. Teachout, a Fordham professor who lives in Fort Greene, has been embraced by the city’s progressives for criticizing Cuomo as a lackluster economic moderate who has failed to come through on a promise to clean up Albany. The third candidate, Credico, who is also running on the Green line, is prioritizing reforms in the criminal justice system primarily by legalizing marijuana and releasing non-violent offenders.

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, where Cuomo’s handpicked choice Kathy Hochul is being challenged by Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu. Hochul, an upstate moderate and former Congressional representative, has been on the ropes for most of the campaign, defending her liberal record to progressives. Both Wu and Teachout have used her as a prop to suggest Cuomo is more conservative than he lets on. Wu’s priorities are fighting corruption and dismantling corporate monopolies, while Hochul is focusing on the NY DREAM Act and the Women’s Equality Act.

For more on these candidates, check out the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org project and WNYC’s Election Guide, both of which include questionnaires and profiles of each.

For an insider’s view of primary day, check out the guides from the New York Observer and Capital NY.

Local Races

Locally, the two races to watch are for the 45th District of the State Assembly and the 19th District of the State Senate.

Incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz is fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod for the Democratic ticket. Akselrod lost to Cymbrowitz in 2012 by just a few hundred votes. Cymbrowitz has spent much of his campaign discussing his legislative record, especially in his role as chairman of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, and arguing that his seniority in the legislative body will allow him to do more for the community. Akselrod has largely sought to seize on popular resentment of the government’s response to Superstorm Sandy, as well as positioning himself as the faith values candidate for the Jewish community. You can read our coverage of Cymbrowitz here, and Akselrod here.

In the 19th District of the State Senate, incumbent John Sampson is fending off challenges from two well-organized candidates, Dell Smitherman and Sean Henry, as well as other contenders. Sampson is in hot water with the law, and is awaiting trial on charges of embezzling $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes to be used for a failed political campaign, as well as for lying to federal investigators. Smitherman, a union organizer, has lined up the backing of organized labor. Henry, an advocate for the homeless, has performed well in fundraising and is pledging to address issues of poverty and foreclosure plaguing much of the district. Read our coverage of Sampson, Smitherman and Henry.

– Additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

With two weeks to go before the September 9 primary elections, the Democratic candidates for the 45th Assembly District will attend a candidates night at the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting on Wednesday.

The race is a reprise of the 2012 elections, with incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod. It’s been a particularly quiet race so far, although the candidates have traded barbs on such compelling issues as nominating petitions.

That could change during the 8:00 p.m. meeting at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street), where the two are both confirmed to attend and will face questions from the public about their views on various issues.

The group has hosted several debates and candidates nights for recent elections, and regularly asks tough policy questions submitted from group members and the broader public.

President Judy Baron emphasized to Sheepshead Bites that this event would be no different, and that all are invited to attend no matter where they live in the district. Questions can be submitted for consideration at the beginning of the event.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod appears to be launching his second attempt to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recently filing papers with the state to form a campaign committee.

Akselrod mounted his first challenge to Cymbrowitz in 2012, rising from relative obscurity to a credible candidate with the assistance of his close friend Ari Kagan. Akselrod came close to defeating Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary, coming less than 300 votes shy of victory. He continued on to the general election on the Independence line, making it a three-way race with Republican Russ Gallo. Cymbrowitz won the general with a wide margin.

Akselrod and his supporters led a hard-knuckled campaign, in which the incumbent was criticized for not opposing a mosque just outside of his district, voting for a bill that encouraged tolerance education in schools including tolerance of homosexuals, and, just days before the primary election, marrying a woman who is not Jewish.

The race brought citywide media attention after Akselrod’s campaign released a flier with a typo claiming that the assemblyman “allowed crime to go up over 50% in the negrohood,” a claim that was factually incorrect regardless of the typo.

Cymbrowitz stayed mum for most of the campaign, leading one outlet to say he was running a “gentleman’s campaign,” but eventually spoke out against “vicious” tactics two weeks after the primary.

Although it’s widely expected, it’s still not fully clear whether Akselrod will run this year. Because of illness, he did not attend last night’s meeting of the Bay Democrats, the club where he serves as president and where he is likely to announce.

District Leader Ari Kagan, a close friend and adviser to Akselrod, told Sheepshead Bites that the papers were simply the first steps to forming an “exploratory committee” to determine whether Akselrod will run.

“He told me it’s an exploratory committee. When he decides 100 percent, he’ll have a big kickoff. Like in May, when the weather is nice,” said Kagan.

Akselrod, however, sounded very much like a candidate in an interview yesterday with Politicker, which first reported on the campaign filings.

“I certainly hope to win. Look, the status quo can’t continue forever. I think I have more energy, more desire to do the job,” Akselrod told Politicker. “There are still many problems with Hurricane Sandy recovery … It’s a year and a half later and we’re still talking about things that should have been done 15 days after the storm hit.”

Akselrod did not return a request to comment in time for publication. We’ll update this post if we here back from him.

1215

Actually, I suppose it’s all quiet at all polls for now. We’ve stopped by about six today, and few reported more than 70 voters per electoral district. But that’ll be heating up as the evening draws near, and people head to the booths after work.

Meanwhile, our woman in the field, Brooklyn Independent Television’s Natasha Gaspard, found a rare breed in the Orthodox section of Midwood: a liberal voter.

Debra Burke was one of the few who have so far hit the 1215 Avenue O voting site, and remarked about how she’s a bit of an odd duck for the area.

“I’m actually am on the other side of the issues because I happen to be liberal. This is a very conservative neighborhood and I happen to be liberal,” she said. “I believe in public schools and equal civil rights.”

Burke didn’t say who she voted for, but did say she had been turned off a bit by the pamphleteering in the past few weeks.

“I’ve been so annoyed by all of the phone calls and pamphlets. Right now, I don’t really like any of them,” she said.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to us throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.

T

Tzipporah Simon being interviewed about her vote by BIT.

The following post is published in partnership with B Civil, Brooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal.

Polls opened at 6:00 a.m. today, and the first round of voters have already pulled the lever at their local voting site.

Poll workers at the St. Mark School poll site (2602 East 19th Street) told Sheepshead Bites that it’s been a quiet morning with few problems – and few voters. As of 10:15 a.m., turnout was beginning to increase.

Tzipporah Simon of Sheepshead Bay was one of the first to pull the lever there this morning.

“I voted for Theresa Scavo. I think that when she was a Community Board leader, she was passionate and remained passionate,” Simon said.

The choice was more difficult in the mayoral elections, Simon said.

“For Mayor, I was kind of undecided. I made a begrudging choice. Mayor is a tough call this year,” she said.

In contrast to the calm scene at St. Mark School, a reader tells us the I.S. 381 (1599 East 22nd Street) polling site in Midwood is chaotic.

“I was sent to the wrong table, there was poll worker confusion,” our reader said. “No superviser was sent to train the workers.”

He said when he finally tried to vote his machine was broken, which spurred an argument with poll workers. Police pulled him aside to calm him down, and moments later a poll worker came over to ask when his break would be.

Please e-mail tips [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com as you vote and tell us about the conditions at your voting site.

Polls are open until 9:00 p.m. tonight. You can find your polling site here.

This post is published in partnership with B CivilBrooklyn Independent Television’s online political portal. BIT producer Natasha Gaspard will be sending on-the-ground updates to Sheepshead Bites throughout the day from various polling sites in an effort to keep readers informed of polling conditions, and remind them to vote.

natraj-bhushan

Natraj Bhushan

Vying for the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Michael Nelson in the City Council’s 48th District, Natraj Bhushan is making technology the cornerstone of his platform, saying that a councilman’s office should be a hub for information and innovation.

The 27-year-old Brighton Beach native, son of an Indian father and Pakistani mother, has provided legal assistance to constituents in Nelson’s office during and after Superstorm Sandy. He later moved on to providing services at Councilmember Leory Comerie’s office. His experience in those roles, he said, has inspired him to conceive of software to better empower residents through adding transparency and efficiency to constituent services.

“I believe, if you empower the community to solve its own problems, you don’t need us [elected officials]. We’re in the background. I want to de-emphasize the individual and emphasize the community,” he told Sheepshead Bites. “And I think the way you do that is to give everybody the resources. Give them the information.”

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While Ben Akselrod was narrowly defeated in his bid to unseat Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz at polls last Thursday, his ally and ticket-mate Ari Kagan emerged victorious in his campaign for district leader.

Kagan, a Russian-American reporter and activist, bested 24-year incumbent Mike Geller, head of the Highway Democratic Club, for the male district leader position in the 45th Assembly District. Kagan took home 1,818 – or 61.63 percent – of the paltry 2,950 votes cast, according to unofficial counts released by the Board of Elections. Geller received 686 votes less, for a total of 1,132, or 38.37 percent.

“I want to thank all my supporters and I promise to work hard on behalf of all neighborhoods and communities of our great and diverse 45 Assembly District,” Kagan wrote to Sheepshead Bites.

The district leader position, listed on the ballot as the Member of the State Democratic Committee, is an unpaid, nongovernmental representative. District leaders help pick the party’s chairman, appoint judges and hire poll workers. Though often under the radar for most voters, district leaders can play a pivotal role in local elections, helping organize grassroots efforts and sometimes directing the support – and campaign coffers – of the state or county party. Every assembly district has a male and female district leader.

The results of this election have not yet been certified by the Board of Elections. They are unofficial results from initial counts of ballots at the booths. This week, the board will add in numbers from ballot write-ins, absentee ballots and paper affidavits.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz eked out a primary victory yesterday, defeating Ben Akselrod by a narrow margin and moving ahead to a rare general election battle.

Cymbrowitz earned 244 votes more than his opponent, a margin of just seven percent of the 3,304 votes cast in the election. Cymbrowitz garnered 53.7 percent versus Akselrod’s 46.3 percent, according to results published by the New York Times.

Brooklyn Daily was at the Highway Democratic Club’s election night party, and here’s the scene they described:

Tensions were high at the High-Way Democratic Club’s results party on McDonald Avenue as Community Board 15 chairwoman Teresa Scavo called out the results as they trickled in.

Cymbrowitz appeared confident as he thanked friends and supporters, but left his own party before the vote was called, and refused to speculate on the outcome.

“I think we’re going to have to wait until all the votes are counted,” Cymbrowitz said, refusing to comment further.

Akselrod a former CB15 district manager, would not comment or concede, claiming that the vote was too close to call.

Cymbrowitz will now face off against Republican Russ Gallo in November’s general elections.

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