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Candidates for 39th Council seat submit petitions

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In the race for the 39th Council District, the petitions are in and the challenges where to be found, at least so far.

When contacted this week, all of the candidates in the race said they weren’t planning to whittle down the five−man fight with petition challenges, a legal and sometimes nasty maneuver that siphons both time and campaign funds and could destroy a candidacy.

“We are not planning to challenge anyone and we are confident that we have so many more than we need that no one would challenge us,” said candidate Brad Lander, who accumulated 3,500 signatures of registered Democrats to get on the ballot for the September 15 primary. Other candidates in the race include Josh Skaller, Bob Zuckerman, John Heyer and Gary Reilly.

According to Board of Elections rules, all one need is 900 signatures from registered Democrats in the district to be put on the primary ballot.

Candidates routinely try to get three times that amount to ward off any challenges.

Some candidates, however, go above and beyond.

Skaller proudly announced Monday that he had submitted 10,000 signatures to the Board of Elections, calling the milestone a “powerful display of grassroots might.”

“It was amazing and certainly humbling to have so many people signing, as well as the 155 witnesses we had helping (to verify the signatures),” said Skaller. “People are getting involved in my campaign who have never been involved in a local political campaign before. They see what’s happening in City Hall and they want to make a difference in their own neighborho­ods.”

While a petition challenge wouldn’t put a dent in his numbers, Skaller said that he hopes the race stays challenge−free.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll all be on the ballot,” he said.

No one’s apparently being frightened off by Skaller’s massive petition filing.

“Candidates decide to allocate their resources differently,” said Zuckerman, who dropped off 2,700 signatures this week. “We allocated our resources to getting a comfortable margin and we succeeded.”

“I don’t expect being challenged, but if we are, then we will be able to defend ourselves,” said Heyer, who submitted 4.682 petition signatures.

Heyer admitted that challenges are on everyone’s mind – so much so that when he talks to “old school” Meade Esposito−era Democrats, the first thing they ask is “Who are you challenging” instead of “Who are you running against.”

“If someone wants to waste their time and challenge us, then they can do it, but I don’t think they will,” he said.

As this paper went to press, Reilly said that he was about to submit close to 1,400 signatures – the lowest amount in the race.

“I’m not planning to challenge anybody,” he said. “I would be more than happy to go bare−knuckles in a general election, but not in an inter−party primary. But, if someone wants to challenge me, there’s nothing I can do about that.

“The good news is I’m also a lawyer, so I could defend myself,” he said.

As of this writing, candidates had until midnight on July 16 to file their petitions. Challenges are usually made in the days that follow.

But candidates are not the only ones who can launch a challenge. A supporter can do so as well.

Calls to the Board of Elections about the race for the 39th Council District were not returned by press time.

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