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Ballot Battle: Gerson Testifies for a Second Day

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City Council member Alan Gerson testified in court for a second day this morning, as a lawyer for one of his opponents fought to keep the two term incumbent off the September Primary ballot. Ray Dowd, representing candidate Pete Gleason, sought to prove that, in collecting signatures, Gerson's campaign was guilty of fraud — not just "technical errors."

The line of questioning focused on a mistake on some petitions, in which Gerson's home address was eroniously  listed as 1505 Laguardia Place, instead of 505 Laguardia Place. Gerson testified he personally instructed the printer to correct the flawed petitions. But somehow, petitions with the wrong address got into the hands of signature collectors working for a couple of Democratic clubs. Those clubs organize volunteers to gather signatures on behalf of candidates they support.

Dowd called several other witnesses today, including the printer and three volunteers who were involved one way or another in handling the petitions. Jessica Loeser, president of the Truman Democratic Club, testified that she changed the address on at least one petition and instructed volunteers to do the same. Dowd argues that altering the petitions in this way is illegal and fraudulent.

During cross-examination, Gerson attorney Lawrence Mandelker, asked Loeser whether she and other volunteers made it clear voters were signing a petition in support of putting Gerson on the ballot. Her answer was "yes." After the hearing, Mandelker asserted there was no fraud because voters were clearly not deceived.

Special Referee Leslie Lowenstein will now prepare a report for State Supreme Court Judge Edward Lehner on two separate matters: Gerson's motion to overturn the Board of Elections and get back on the ballot, and Gleason's motion to keep him off. The hearing before Judge Lehner takes place next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, candidate Margaret Chin's case against rival PJ Kim will be heard tomorrow. A few more details in the Downtown Express:

Chin (is) claiming that 5,000 or about 90 percent of Kim’s
5,500 signatures are invalid. Lowenstein, the referee, is also hearing
that matter and will submit an opinion to Judge Lehner for a hearing on
Aug. 12. Unlike Gerson, Kim remains on the ballot despite the
challenge, at least for now. A. Joshua
Ehrlich, Chin’s lawyer, accused Kim of fraud, claiming the witnesses
who signed most of Kim’s petitions either forged their names or
conducted some other type of fraud. In response, Jerry Goldfeder, Kim’s
lawyer, said Ehrlich’s accusations amounted to nothing more than “a
fishing expedition.”

A final bit of First District election news: the Campaign Finance Board is paying out first installments to candidates participating in public financing today. Margaret Chin, Pete Gleason and PJ Kim raised enough money to qualify for matching funds. Apparently Alan Gerson did not.  Each of the candidates will receive $84,122.

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  1. Gerson and his acolytes, absolutely, certainly and without question committed ballot fraud. I called upon the District Attorneys office to start a criminal inquiry under The Fair Voting act.

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