Council member Chin Accuses Marte Campaign of Intimidating Elderly Chinese Voters

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City Council member Margaret Chin expects the Board of Elections to certify results from the Sept. 12 Democratic Primary today, handing her what she was denied on election night: a victory.

According to her campaign team, the two-term District 1 Council member edged out challenger Christopher Marte by 226 votes once absentee and affidavit ballots were counted. But Chin did not appear to be in a celebratory mood yesterday. Her campaign put out a press release that carried the headline, “Councilwoman Chin denounces voter harassment and intimidation by Marte campaign.”

In a statement, Chin said:

I am proud of my campaign, which in the face of unrelenting attacks, remained focused on my record of creating and preserving affordable housing, ensuring opportunities for our young people, and funding our schools and greenspaces. However, I cannot ignore the voter intimidation and harassment by the Marte campaign, which specifically targeted elderly Chinese American voters at several poll sites. Nor can I forget the fraudulent use of Planned Parenthood’s logo to indicate an endorsement of his campaign on mail sent just before Primary Day. I am calling on the New York City Board of Elections to investigate these incidents, as well as other irregularities at polling sites throughout my district… Despite running on a platform of reform and progressive values, the Marte campaign employed tactics straight out of the handbook of the corrupt political machine — including intimidating and misleading voters at the poll sites, distorting Councilwoman Chin’s long record of fighting for our communities, and fabricating Marte’s own endorsements.

The campaign was not specific about the alleged incidents of voter intimidation. We contacted Christopher Marte for his response to Council member Chin”s allegations. This is what he said:

Our campaign has been issue-based from its beginning. The statements we made about what has been going on in our community for the past 8 years have always been factual. We will not turn to the Council member’s tactics of this sort of slanderous speech. As our former First Lady said, “When they go low, we go high.” Our campaign staff and volunteers, which included Chinese seniors, did not intimidate or harass any voters. They are people who care about their community, and we are grateful for their hard work on this local campaign. We received a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, and were emailed by their organization the logo to put on our materials. The changing of the poll sites overnight is suspicious, especially in the areas where I did well during my State Committee race last year… Our District is best served by those with the community’s interests at heart, and 54% of voters decided that was not represented by our current Councilperson. I am honored by the coalition of support across the District that my campaign received, and am discouraged to hear the Councilperson attempt to discredit this grassroots movement.
The statement from Chin asserted, “The rhetoric from Christopher Marte on several issues is indicative of his campaign being in the control of well-funded special interests. For example, his campaign has rallied around the future site of affordable housing on Elizabeth and Mott streets, taking the side of privileged people over the low-income seniors who are in desperate need of places to live.” A major issue in the campaign was Council member Chin’s support for affordable senior housing on the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden. Her stance has enraged garden activists and many other residents in the immediate area. Responding to the charge that well-heeled garden activists helped fund his campaign, Marte said:
Campaign finance is public record and I have not received any special interest money. Our track record of disagreement on Elizabeth Street Garden is well-documented. I believe the open space serves seniors, families, and people from all socio-economic backgrounds. My firsthand experience as a volunteer there is proof of this. There is a community-based plan to create more senior affordable housing at 388 Hudson St, which is currently a vacant gravel-filled lot, and not a community garden that is used for school programs and neighborhood gatherings.

As of this morning, unofficial election results still show Chin with 5220 votes (45.77%) and Marte with 5020 votes (44.02%). Aaron Foldenauer has 699 votes (6.13%) and Dashia Imperiale has 445 votes (3.90%). Foldenauer plans to run against Chin in the Nov. 7 general election. Marte has said a legal challenge to the Sept. 12 result is a possibility.

Chin said yesterday that her opponents have “divided and pitted our communities against each other.”

“Today,” she added, “our district is facing real problems that include a lack of affordable housing options, aggressive and greedy development, and looming funding cuts from Donald Trump. Our community must unite if we are to prevail. Together, we will fight for a better, brighter future for our community.”