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Here’s a quick question for you: How many candidates in the race for the 39th City Council District have children in public school?
The real answer is three, but according to the Voter’s Guide that just showed up in your mail box, it’s one.
Green Party candidate Dave Pechefsky and Republican candidate Joe Nardiello went back to school, MS 51 on Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street, to be exact, Monday to rail against the Campaign Finance Board, which they claim printed an error that identified Democratic nominee Brad Lander as the only parent in the race with children in public school -- an inaccuracy they believe could cost them votes in the general election.
At various campaign stops on the march to November 3 both Nardiello and Pechefsky said they have children enrolled in public school.
Joining them at MS 51 was Lander, who took part of the blame and asked the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to correct the error in the Voter Guide’s on-line edition, which was changed this week.
To prove that all of them have school age children, the three candidates squeezed into desks outside MS 51 and took a standardized test their child would be taking this year.
Pechefsky got the raw end of this deal: His daughter, who attends MS 51, is in the eighth grade. Nardiello’s child, who attends PS 58 on Smith Street, is much younger as are Lander’s children, who both attend PS 107 on Eighth Avenue.
Lander said he had no control over the CFB muck up, since it’s the agency’s policy to reprint the write-up used in the Primary Voter’s Guide in the general election Voter’s Guide.
When he was seeking the Democratic nomination, it was factually accurate for him to write “As the only public school parent” in the race since none of the other candidates could make that claim (challenger Josh Skaller had a child in private school -- an issue which became a hot button topic in at least one primary debate).
But when it was time to put out the general election Voter Guide, the CFB reprinted Lander’s primary write up. Pechefsky and Nardiello submitted their own write ups, but didn’t mention anything about their kids.
“I filled out the voter guide for the primary in June and was only thinking about the primary,” said Lander. “But in the general election I’m not the only public school parent.”
Lander said that he went back over his CFB paper work it does indicate that the primary write up will be used in the general election Voter’s Guide.
“I didn’t focus on that point,” said Lander, who added that the issue “reflects a flaw in the CFB approach” to the voter’s guide. “If I did, I would have never written it in that way.”
Nardiello, his mother a former teacher, his wife a PTA volunteer, called the CFB policy “pure laziness.”
“[The voter’s guide] works in favor of another candidate and now it’s gone out to 80,000 people...we can’t take it back,” Nardiello said. “I won’t be able to reach out to each of them and correct this misinformation.”
“It’s very frustrating,” said Pechefsky, adding that the CFB policy “Reinforces the view in this city that not only is the primary is the only game in town, but the Democratic primary is the only game in town. The general election is an afterthought.”
Pechefsky added that he was surprised that the CFB doesn’t fact check the write ups.
“I could write that I’m the only candidate who has found the cure for cancer and they’d put it in,” he said.
A CFB spokesperson said that when candidates submit their profiles “they are advised to submit only one statement that would be used to primary and general elections.”
Sources said that the write ups are “printed as supplied by the candidates” although they do correct glaring grammar and spelling errors. While they are looked over by lawyers for libel, the CFB doesn’t have enough staff to fact check the write ups.
If this reporter were running for office and wrote in his profile that he was from Krypton and could stop bullets and leap tall buildings in a single bound, would they print it?
That’s never come up, the CFB spokesperson explained.
“But that’s the kind of guy I’d like to see in the City Council,” he joked.
The 39th District covers Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Borough Park. Other candidates in the general election include Conservative candidate George Smith and Roger Sarrabo, who is running on the Libertarian line.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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