Sometimes the tricky part about getting elected in New York is
getting–and staying–on the ballot. Thanks to arcane election laws
and super-savvy election lawyers, would-be candidates find that they
are has-beens, even before the first yard sign goes up. And it’s
usually the newcomers to politics who learn the hard way.
Just ask Glen DiResto. He’s the latest victim of the ballot bounce.
Until this week, DiResto, a former NYPD lieutenant from Rockaway, was
running for City Council — the Queens District 32 seat recently vacated by now-Senator Joseph Addabbo. When DiResto filed his papers
with the Board of Elections, he touched off a legal skirmish that
would bounce around the courts for several weeks.
Another candidate, Geraldine Chapey, challenged DiResto’s candidacy,
arguing to the Board of Elections that DiResto violated the law when
he chose the name “Families First” as his party line for the otherwise
non-partisan special election. Chapey’s attorney, former state senator
and long-time election lawyer Marty Connor argued that state election
law bars a candidate from having a party name that “includes the name,
or part of the name, of an existing party”–like the Working Families
The Board of Elections agreed, and DiResto was off the ballot.
DiResto appealed to the New York Supreme Court, which overturned the
board’s decision. DiResto was back on the ballot. Chapey then took the
matter up to the Appellate Division. It sided with Chapey, and that
took DiResto off of the ballot once and for all–he has no avenues of
We could forgive DiResto–a first-time candidate–for being
frustrated and just a little jaded by the whole affair. When he called
the Gotham Gazette to say he had some “bad news” to report, his
disappointment with the process was palpable.
“Elections should be determined in the voting booth, not in the
courtroom,” he said. “It’s the people’s choice. It’s unfair that
candidates feel they can take democracy in their own hands. Isn’t
Don’t hold your breath waiting for DiResto to refile for the regular
city council primary in September. He said he’s not likely to run.
Whether you call it tyranny or technicality, the pre-election legal
wrangling is prevalent because it works. According to the New York
Daily News, six of the 22 city council hopefuls in three races were
knocked off the special election ballot in the last few weeks,
including the candidate who was considered the likely front-runner in
the 32nd district race, Frank Gulluscio. No stranger to politics,
Gulluscio nevertheless lost his spot on the ballot when Chapey charged
that his petition lacked the required number of valid signatures.
You can bet that’s a mistake Gulluscio won’t make the next time.