The District 31 run-off race to fill former City Councilman James Sanders Jr.’s vacated seat is loaded with candidates that have wacky or barely distinguishable party names and connections to current elected officials.
The city Board of Elections announced Wednesday that nine candidates met the Jan. 15 deadline to submit at least 1,350 signatures to have their name on the ballot for the Feb. 19 special election.
With no political primary, the candidates were tasked with inventing their own party and adopted cause.
Selvena Brooks, a former staffer of state Sen. Malcolm Smith, and former Councilman Allan Jennings both alluded to Superstorm Sandy with their party name choices, running under the “Rebuild Now” and “People’s Relief” lines, respectively.
Three of nine party monikers include some form of the word unite, including current Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide running with the People United ticket.
Community activists Jacques Leandre, Saywalah Kesselly and Earnest Flowers add to an already crowded field. Flowers is a community liaison for Assemblyman William Scarborough, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The early frontrunner appears to be Donovan Richards, Sanders’ former chief of staff. The outgoing councilman has thrown his weight behind his protegé. Richards is running under the Community Unity line.
The overflowing field of candidates is predominantly African American, except for Pesach Osina, a liaison for Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. One source within Osina’s camp said that his path to victory runs through the prominent Orthodox Jewish enclave in Far Rockaway.