The special election to fill the City Council seat vacated by James Sanders Jr., who was elected to the Senate, will be held on Feb. 19, Mayor Bloomberg announced last Thursday.
That’s less than five weeks away and a lot earlier than the March time frame, for which the candidates had been preparing. The newly elected council member will serve until Dec. 31.
Those who have announced that they plan to run are Donovan Richards, Sanders’ chief of staff, Marie Adam-Ovide, the district manager of Community Board 8; Jacques Leandre, a lawyer and founder of the Rosedale Jets Football Association; Earnest Flowers, who runs a communications and marketing firm; Mike Duncan, a community activist; and Selvena Brooks, a public relations specialist.
Pesach Osina, community liaison for Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Far Rockaway), is considering entering the race, but has not made a final decision yet.
“I’m weighing all the options,” he told the Chronicle Tuesday.
The other six contenders all say that despite the short time they have left, they are prepared for the election. The deadline to file to run is Jan. 15.
“We’ve been prepared,” Richards said. “Everything was in motion. We shouldn’t have a lack of representation until March. People are hurting. We need to hit the ground running.”
Duncan expressed similar sentiments.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m going all the way.”
But the bumped-up date means Duncan will have to get things done faster, and that, he said, includes putting in a lot more time into his campaign than anticipated in the coming weeks. It also means, he won’t have time for a mid-February fundraiser as he had hoped.
“The earlier election date means we are all in the same predicament,” Duncan said.
Bloomberg’s announcement didn’t take Flowers by surprise.
“I was anticipating February because this election is so important and so critical, and people have already built alliances and gathered supporters,” he said. “We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. We’re very excited.”
Flowers said he is not worried about his competition and asserted that he is the only candidate in the race with a quantitative and qualitative written plan for economic and social development.
“I think anyone who wants to run should run, and be able to articulate their positions,” Flowers said.
Leandre said he too is prepared for a February election because, according to the city charter, the vote must be within 45 days of the seat being vacated. Sanders took office in the Senate on Jan. 1.
“We are energized and ready to go,” Leandre said. “We haven’t been running a campaign. This is a lifelong commitment to serving the community, which started even before deciding to run for public office. It’s just a matter of nailing down the technical aspects of a campaign.”
Those include recruiting volunteers, signature gathering, fundraising and door-knocking.
Brooks said she is happy the election will be held sooner rather than later, because that means the seat won’t remain vacant for as long and someone will be in place to address the pressing issues affecting the district, including recovery from Hurricane Sandy.
“I am focused on my campaign and trying to reach as many voters as possible,” Brooks said. “I am getting my message out there and talking about my platforms.”
Adam-Ovide is so determined to make the ballot and win the race that she has taken vacation time from her job at CB 8 so that she can dedicate herself to her campaign. And she says she is not worried about the short time frame.
“I’m taking time off from work so that I can work on my campaign 24/7,” Adam-Ovide said. “I want to make sure that I have the signatures I need to make the ballot, so that people have the best choice, not just those who are connected.”
Clergy United for Community Empowerment, a Jamaica faith-based group, will announce whom it is endorsing at its meeting on Feb. 8. in St. Albans. The Federated Blocks of Laurelton will be hosting a candidates forum on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at St. Luke Cathedral Fellowship, located at 133-23 233 St. in Laurelton.