District 18 Soundview, Parkchester, Castle Hill
GOTHAM GAZETTE: SEARCHLIGHT ON CAMPAIGN 2001: DISTRICT 18

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What is Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a guide to the political races in what many are calling New York City's most significant campaign season in modern history.

What is so significant about it?
For the first time in memory, most political offices in the city will be wide open to people who have neither money nor connections.

Why will the races be so open?
There are two reasons. This year, a new law goes into effect that limits the terms of New York City elected officials, forcing the mass retirement of most incumbents in the city - including the mayor, the comptroller, the public advocate, four of the five borough presidents, and 36 of the 51 members of the City Council. At the same time, a new campaign finance law kicks in, which allows any candidate who agrees to certain restrictions to collect four dollars of matching funds for every dollar they raise.

What does this have to do with this site?
As a public service, Searchlight on Campaign 2001 has a separate page for each race, including all the races for City Council, that not only sorts out the candidates -- many of them new and unfamiliar -- but also offers an opportunity to learn about the issues, and the districts themselves.

Who is behind Searchlight on Campaign 2001?
Searchlight on Campaign 2001 is a project of Gotham Gazette, a non-profit, non-partisan, non-ideological (but non-boring) web site about New York City news, policy and politics published by Citizens Union Foundation, part of the oldest and largest good-government group in the city (founded in 1897).

What's wrong with the way the regular press covers the races?
That is for you to decide. And one of our regular features, Campaign Trail, helps you to decide. Campaign Trail provides succinct summaries and links to campaign articles in the commercial press.

Who are we?
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Learn more about this district in Searchlight 2002

General Election Results

x-Ruben Diaz, Dem 12,925 - 81 percent
Lorraine B. Murphy, Rep 2,133 - 13 percent
Elizabeth Rodriguez, Grn 343 - 2 percent
Dalia Flores, Lbt 330 - 2 percent
William Newmark, Con 184 - 1 percent

Primary Election Results

Ruben Diaz 9,600
Armando Montano 2,891
Elizabeth Rodriguez 2,858
(Official Vote Count from the Board of Elections)

Incumbent: Lucy Cruz (can't run in 2001)

The Candidates:

  • Ruben Diaz (Dem)
  • Lorraine B. Murphy (Rep)
  • William Newmark (Con)
  • Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gre)

Contributors to these candidates, according to the Campaign Finance Board:

Ruben Diaz has not filed.
Contributors to Armando Montano
Lorraine B. Murphy has not filed.
William Newmark has not filed
Contributors to Elizabeth Rodriguez

City's Official Primary Election Voter Guide for Residents of District 18

Issue Statements:
District 18 candidates' statements on the issues, at Savvyvoter.org


Campaign Feature:
[Campaign Update]

Diallo's District

Amadou Diallo's soft brown eyes look over the corner of Wheeler and Westchester Avenue in the South Bronx.

The mural, over 20 feet in size, shows Diallo's face and his gravestone, and the words "The American Dream" in red, white and blue lettering. But the mural is not just a memorial for Diallo; it is an angry denunciation of the police: There are four police officers in Ku Klux Klan hoods, and the Statue of Liberty is holding a gun.

Since its unveiling in April, unknown vandals have defaced the mural, or painted over it. But each time the Harlem artist who painted it, Hulbert Waldroup, returns within a few hours, and does it all over again.

The mural is just the most visible evidence that the Diallo incident is still alive and vivid in this neighborhood, where in 1999 the unarmed West African immigrant was shot and killed in the vestibule of his apartment building on Wheeler Avenue, in a shower of 41 bullets fired by four white poli ce officers, who had mistaken him for a criminal and his wallet for a gun.

Area Profile
For a detailed profile of this district from City Project, click here.

Race:

  • Hispanic: 64%
  • Black: 23%
  • White: 8%
  • Asian: 4%

Median income: $38, 051 (Ranks 35th out of 51)

Unemployment rate: 12%

For more information on this district -- its schools, its crime statistics and more -- click here.

Although community relations with the police have improved since the Diallo incident, the candidates running for City Council in the district say that the issue of police distrust still exists, especially since the four police officers involved in the shooting were acquitted of all state charges in February 2000.

Community leaders praise Deputy Inspector Michael Phips at the 43rd precinct, who was appointed after the Diallo shooting, for his new "open-door policy" and for welcoming community members to call him directly.

"Relations have improved somewhat, but we still have a long way to go," said the Reverend Ruben Diaz, one of the four candidates.

Meanwhile, candidate Elizabeth Rodriguez feels that the bad publicity surrounding the Diallo trial has hurt the neighborhood.

"Soundview was portrayed as the worst neighborhood in the city; it's not even the worst in the Bronx," said Rodriguez. "That is insulting to me and my commu nity. We are as good as any other community, with the same kind of people. I'm not afraid to walk down Wheeler Avenue at any time of the day."

But while City Council candidates want to keep Diallo's memory alive, as a reminder about the neighborhood's history with police brutality, they also want to address other issues in their campaigns.

Both Diaz and Rodriguez said that improving education and funding for after school programs are their top priority for the community now. (The other two candidates, Hilda Hernandez and Luis Diaz, could not be reached).

Though the area has one of the largest growing populations of school age children in the city, the funding for after-school programs is less than almost half the other districts in the city.

"We don't have a recreational facility for students, a place where they can go after school and be off the streets, doing something constructive," Rodriguez said.

Diaz said the school age population is growing rapidly in the Bronx because of new home construction, which is good for the area, but the school construction has not kept pace.

"We've been promised another high school for 10 years, but we're still waiting for that to be built," said Rodriguez, who has been chairman of community board 9 for eight years. "We need more beacon schools and an elementary school too."

Some community leaders have criticized current Councilmember Lucy Cruz, who was elected in 1991, for the stagnant state of education and youth programs in the district and blame her for lax participation in community affairs in the last few years. Cruz, who has been battling ongoing illness in recent years, is seldom seen at City Hall.

In a recent protest in front of a Bronx school where a teacher was accused of sexually assaulting students, Diaz charged that the Board of Education is incompetent and unaccountable, and called for abolishing it, replacing it with a commissioner who is appointed by the mayor.

Rodriguez doesn't think the Board of Education should be abolished. One of her main goals is to improve parent participation in the children's education. "Before you make the parents accountable the parents have to be educated with the new material that kids are being taught. My older son had to help my younger son because I didn't know this math."

Diaz, who is the president of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, frequently appears at television press conferences about Bronx issues, but his activism is not without controversy. In 1996 he was forced to resign from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, after publicly announcing his religious objections to homosexuality.

That is why it came as a surprise to some when the Bronx Democratic Party decided to endorse Diaz as their official candidate, because the party had been one of the key groups that called for his removal from the board.

The Civilian Complaint Review Board position has remained opened since Diaz's resignation. Recently he has supported the nomination of Iris Baez to fill the position.

Religion has played an important role in Diaz's life and he believes it is the one of the main reasons why he judges his son, Ruben Diaz Jr, a success as a member of the New York State Assembly.

"My son grew up in church with me and that has made him more sensitive, more human, more bound to earth. Religion makes people aware of their neighbors and conscious that someday they will have to answer to someone."

Rodriguez, who is also running as a Democrat, said Diaz is using his son's name to boost his campaign.

"I served the people on a volunteer basis for 10 years and after I leave work I do community work. My neighbors are the ones who encouraged me to run."

posted 6/6/01

Campaign Update:

There are now eight candidates running for City Council district 18 in the South Bronx, including six Democratic candidates.

"Our community suffers total neglect from our elected officials" said Barbara Jones, who has been Democratic District leader since 1992. "District 18 hasn't been represented adequately for the past 12 years."

Jones hopes to decrease class size, build more schools, and expand after-school programs to include not just homework assistance but art activities as well. Jones would also like to see only teachers, school administrators, and parents with children in public school as members of the central Board of Education.

William Newmark, who is running under the Conservative party, said he believes people in the district are ready for a change because of unfulfilled promises made by Democratic elected officials. Newmark favors of school vouchers because they create competition and give parents a choice. "Anything the teacher's union opposes is a good idea," said Newmark.

While some new homes have been built in the last few years in the South Bronx, Newmark said that it is not enough and the only way to increase home building is to get rid of rent stabilization and have apartments rented on market price. "The liberals say everybody's going to be thrown out on the street but in other cities where they don't have rent stabilization, nobody is thrown out on the street," said Newmark.

Democratic candidate Armando Montano said if he is elected he would try to get parents more involved in the schools and hold meetings on Saturdays if needed. He also believes members of the central Board of Education should be elected rather than appointed.

The other Democratic candidates Hilda Hernandez, Lorraine Murphy and Sandra Love did not respond to requests for interviews.

Love, who has been endorsed by State Senator Pedro Espada Jr., recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for filing erroneous documents that illegally diverted a state grant to the Soundview Health Center where she works. Love told local press that the transfer was legitimate and that she pled guilty due to pressure from the district attorney, to save money on legal fees, and to spare her family from further embarrassment. The district attorney's office said that "$6,000 of that money was funneled to the committee to re-elect Pedro Espada Jr." Love maintains she used the money for a Puerto Rican theater group.

"I also have worked very hard in the very community for the past 20 years I know the issues, I've lived the issues and I think I would be the best candidate," Love said at July 9th press conference. (See the Campaign Trail for more details.)

Posted 8/01/01


Candidate Biographies

Ruben Diaz is the pastor of Christian Community Neighborhood Church. He founded the Christian Community Benevolent Association in 1977, has operated three senior centers and a home attendant program for 1,000 clients in addition to the South Bronx Senior Transportation Network, which provides transportation for seniors. Diaz is also the president of the New York Hispanic Clergy and served on the Civilian Review Complaint Review Board

Hilda Hernandez (no information available)

Barbara Jones has been Democratic District leader in the 76th Assembly District since 1992. A former city employee, she served as president of the Parkchester Chapter of the NAACP and as secretary of BCFM-Black Citizens for a Fair Media.

Sandra D. Love is the senior vice-president of the Soundview Healthcare Network.

Armando Montano, who runs a private law practice, served for 16 years as legal counsel for former State Senator Larry Seabrook. He has worked with the State Assembly Task force on Bilingual education, and has assisted his community with legal council cases involving the Latino Voting Rights Committee, Community District 12 and Latino Artists to save El Museo del Barrio. He received his Bachelor's degree in City College and his law degree from University of Pennsylvania.

Lorraine B. Murphy (no information available)

Elizabeth Rodriguez works as the Assistant to the Chairperson and administrator at the Department of Rehab Medicine at New York University School of Medicine. She is founder and president of the East Bronx Community Action Committee, an organization formed about 16 years ago because of the city's building of homeless shelters in the Bronx. She has served as Community Board 9 Chairman for the last eight years.

William Newmark, a private political consultant, was county leader of the Bronx Conservative Party. He worked as an assistant for 13 years for Senator Guy Vella.


Campaign Trail

8/28/01
The New York Times today endorsed a candidate in this race. District 18 (Soundview, Parkchester, Castle Hill) "Armando Montano, a lawyer with a strong record of public service, is by far the best candidate. His competition includes the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. the father of the area's assemblyman and the choice of the county Democratic Party. Mr. Diaz has a track record of allowing his conservative religious beliefs to shape his political views. This district has long suffered from a lack of good representation in the City Council. We believe that could change with the election of Armando Montano."

7/19/01
State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has endorsed Sandra Love for City Council in district 18. Love recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that she filed erroneous documents that illegally diverted the bulk of a $95,100 state grant to the Soundview Health Center, money that had been earmarked for renovating the Teatro de Puerto Rico in the borough. Love insists that the money went to Soundview in order to reimburse the center for having saved the theater in the first place and states that she can prove that. Love also argues that she pleaded guilty due to pressure from District Attorney Robert Johnson, as well as to save money on legal fees and to save her family from further embarrassment. (Bronx Press)

7/9/01
The Bronx district attorney's office says health care administrator Sandra Love plead guilty to falsifying documents in order to obtain a state grant. But Love says she plead guilty to filing a form that had errors on it. Love, who is 18th District City Council candidate, held a press conference, to clarify her plea bargain and what she agreed to. (News 12 Interactive)

7/6/01
Bronx health care administrator Sandra Love has admitted to falsifying records and misusing public funds. This comes just eight months after Love and State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. were cleared of grand larceny charges. (News 12 Interactive)

7/13/01
Mayoral candidate Mark Green takes goes after opponent, Fernando Ferrer by criticizing the borough president's stance on the Diallo shooting. (News 12 Interactive)

7/6/01
Sandra Love, who was acquitted of larceny with Espada last year in an unrelated case, must reimburse the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation $20,000 under the terms of her plea. Acting state Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett is expected to approve the plea deal at Love's sentencing on Oct. 4. (Daily News)

5/20/01
The Bronx Democratic Organization endorsed Adolfo Carrion Jr. for Bronx borough president, though this by no means assures his election. His opponents include State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. and Willie Colón, the salsa performer and onetime candidate for Congress. Other candidates the organization endorsed: Ruben Diaz Sr. (district 18), Michael Benjamin (district 16), Jose Marco Serrano (district 17), Larry Seabrook (district 12) (NY Times)

5/10/01
Rev. Diaz protests with other ministers in front of Bronx school where a teacher allegedly sexually assaulted students, Diaz blames Central Board of Education and calls for abolishing it. (Bronx Times)

4/28/01
Diallo mural repainted by Harlem artist just hours after someone blotted out the controversial images.(New York Times)

4/25/01
Diallo mural unveiled featured police officers hooded in Ku Klux Klan white hoods and a statue holding a gun. The mural painted by Harlem artist is called "The American Dream,"has spurred mixed reactions from community members. (New York Times)

4/25/01
Diallo mural unveiled featured police officers hooded in Ku Klux Klan white hoods and a statue holding a gun. The mural painted by Harlem artist is called "The American Dream." (Court TV)

4/12/01
Rev. Ruben Diaz supports the controversial nomination of Iris Baez to his former Bronx seat in the Civilian Complaint Review Board. (Riverdale Review)

3/29/01
Castle Hill Community Group opposes the building of a Home Depot in their neighborhood. Elizabeth Rodriguez holds a hearing at community board 9 protesting the high traffic the store would bring to the neighborhood. (Bronx Times)

11/2/00
A ribbon cutting was held outside the new Castle Hill Medical Center. The ceremony was hosted by former senator Pedro Espada, Jr., founder and president of Castle Hill Medical Center, and attended by dozens of residents. Sandra Love, the center's senior vice president, led the group in a prayer. The new medical center will temporarily replace the old center in Castle Hill, which is currently undergoing renovations to expand the medical office and build a youth center with wheelchair accessibility. (The Bronx Times Reporter)

2/99
Bronx position in Civilian Complaint Review Board has remained empty since Rev. Ruben Diaz resigned in 1996 for his public statements against homosexuality. Bronx women nominated for the position. (The Bronx Beat)

3/17/97
Bronx lacks voice on police brutality since Rev. Diaz resigned from his position on the Civilian Complaint Review Board in 1996, the position has remained unfilled. (The Bronx Beat)

Districts of the Week

District 1 -- Lower Manhattan
Whoever wins the election in district 1 will represent immigrant Chinese garment workers, as well as Wall Street traders living in Battery Park City. There are several candidates hoping to be the council's firsts -- the first Asian-American man, the first Asian-American woman, the first gay Rhodes Scholar, the first dot-com guru -- running against some politically well connected opponents. Endorsements and fundraising will play a big role in this race. But voter turnout could be the main determinant of who will next represent district 1 on the council. The key question is how many voters from each community will come out on Election Day.

District 7 -- Washington Heights, Manhattan
The northern tip of Manhattan has become one of the most popular places for new immigrants to call home. The northern tip of Manhattan is a place that today's new immigrants call home. The majority have come from the Dominican Republic, but also from countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. But it is not just new immigrants that are moving in. Students, artists, and other Manhattanites looking for less expensive rents and larger apartments have also moved north. Ten Democratic candidates are competing for the 15,000 voters expected on primary day. The winner who emerges from a crowded field of candidates will have to balance the needs of the newcomers with those who have lived there for years.

District 16 -- Highbridge, Bronx
The neighborhoods of district 16 are the city's poorest, with the highest rate of unemployment and the lowest median household income. But those who live there also point out that much is positive and stable about the area, thanks in large part to local organizations, not-for-profit agencies, and houses of worship that help hold the neighborhoods together. Each candidate for City Council believes that through his or her connections to churches and local organizations, they can help empower the community toward a better life. Helen Foster, the current council member daughter, will face Michael Benjamin, who has worked as an aide to several government officials and Anthony Curry, a Bronx neighborhood activist.

District 20 -- Northeast Flushing, Queens
This year district 20 may elect the first Asian-American ever to the City Council to an area which now has the second highest number of immigrants from Korea and Taiwan in the city. There are three Asian candidates in the Democratic race who have each drawn big endorsements. Council Speaker Peter Vallone endorsed Terence Park, City Comptroller Alan Hevesi endorsed John Liu, and the New York Times recently endorsed Ethel Chen The campaign has also drawn national and international press coverage

District 25 -- Jackson Heights, Queens
Thirty-seventh Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the most diverse streets in the world. Little India quickly blends into Little Colombia, with vendors selling Latin American food to Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans, and Uruguayans. And each summer, the Queens Pride Parade fills the same street with rainbow banners. So it is no surprise that this election year the district produced a diverse field of candidates. A number of them, however, found out that getting on the ballot is not an easy task, especially when the Queens Democratic organization sends teams of lawyers to challenge petitions. But five Democratic candidates survived and will face off on September 11.

District 31 -- South East Queens
When a heavy rain hits southeast Queens, many residents in neighborhoods like Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale head to the basement with a bucket in hand. And it has been that way for the last 50 years. In the rush to build housing in the area after World War II, developers overlooked the need for storm drains in hopes that the city would eventually build a city-wide sewer system. The plan never materialized and the area has experienced "100-year rains" three times in the last decade. The eight Democrats -- all with little experience overseeing massive infrastructure projects--will try to convince voters that they can finally solve the flooding problems.

District 35 -- Central Brooklyn
The residents in council district 35 have some of the highest incomes in Brooklyn and some of the lowest. They can play in a famous park and a beautiful botanical garden, and live in the city's most crumbling public housing. They can attend one of the four institutions of higher learning in the district, and the worst-scoring high schools in the city. Such juxtapositions are a way of life for a district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens; mid dle-class African-American communities near Prospect Park; immigrant communities from Haiti, Sierra Leon, Nigeria, and Trinidad, and in Crown Heights, a mix of Hasidic Jews and African-Americans. Seven Democratic candidates are campaigning in hopes that they can bring some kind of unity, and attention, to the area. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the neighborhoods themselves.

District 39 -- Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
The candidates in district 39 include a chief of staff for an Assemblywoman, the husband of a member of U.S. Congress, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, an attorney and president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, the district manager of Community Board 6, and a labor organizer. This is the race to watch this year. The group of high-profile Democrats have raised a lot of money, almost $1.4 million combined.

District 45 -- East Flatbush
In no place in the city are the effects of campaign finance reform and term limits being felt more than in East Flatbush. The seven Democratic candidates seeking to represent this largely West Indian district come from a number of Caribbean nations. Many have been working on politicians' staffs and serving with community groups, clearly hoping someday to win their own elected office. Term limits has presented them with that opportunity, and they want to make the most of it. But this race that usually draws only about 8,000 voters could be decided by just a few votes. The candidates are attempting to come up with anything that will separate them from the pack.

District 49 -- North Shore, Staten Island
Staten Island has always been somewhat of a suburban stepchild to New York City. When a 1998 survey asked New Yorkers why they go to Staten Island, the top two responses were ''visiting friends and relatives" and ''passing through.'' But in many ways, the north shore has more in common with areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn than with the rest of the Staten Island. The top priority for all the candidates -- Jon Del Giorno, an administrative manager for the Board of Elections, Mike McMahon, an attorney and counsel to current Councilmember Jerome O'Donovan, and Debi Rose, an administrator at the College of Staten Island and the first African-American candidate in Staten Island politics -- is to make sure that the island becomes more than just a turn-around-point for the over one million tourists who ride the free ferry from Manhattan each year.


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Links You Can Use

Government sites
NYC Campaign Finance Bd.
NYC Board of Elections
NYC Voter Assistance Comm.
NY City Council
Federal Election Comm.

Local non-partisan sites
SavvyVoter.org
NYVote.com
Votesmart
NYPIRG
NY League of Women Voters
Common Cause New York

National non-partisan sites
Ctr. for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
DemocracyNet
League of Women Voters

NAACP Voter Empowerment
Vote Smart

E-Voting
Election.com

Political consultants
Amer. Assc. of Pol. Consultants

Prime New York

Media
Gotham Gazette
The Empire Page
Campaigns and Elections
Legislative Gazette

Political columnists
Andrea Bernstein
Joe Conason
Mario Cuomo (radio)
Rudy Giuliani (radio)
Clyde Haberman
Nat Hentoff

Joseph Mercurio
Joyce Purnick
John Tierney
Michael Tomasky

Political parties
Conservative
Democratic
Green
Independence
Liberal
Republican
Right to Life
Working Families
Communist
Libertarian
Marijuana Reform
Natural Law Party
Socialist
Taxpayers Party

Political clubs and groups
Blueprint Camp. Finance Reform
Central Queens Greens
DL21C
The Jefferson Democratic Club of Flushing
NY Young Republican Club
Stonewall Democratic Club
Village Independent Dems.


Abbreviations for Party Affiliation

American Dream Party (AMD)
Better Schools Party (BES)
Communist (Com)
Conservative (Con)
Constitution (CST)
Democratic (Dem)
Friends United Party (FUN)
Fusion Party (FUS)
Green (Gre)
Harmony Party (HAR)
Independence (Ind)
Liberal (Lib)
Libertarian (LBT)
Marijuana Reform Party (POT)
Natural Law Party (NLP)
Party of Ethics and Traditions (PET)
Reform Party (Ref)
Republican (Rep)
Right to Life (RTL)
School Choice Party (Sch)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Working Families (Wor)


2001 Election Calendar

June 1 -- Deadline for candidates to join the Campaign Finance program, qualifying for the four-to-one match of contributions.
June 5 - First day for candidates from the eight major parties (Democratic, Republican, Indpendence, Conservative, Liberal, Green, Working Families, and Right to Life) to circulate petitions. Candidates running for City Council must collect the signatures of at least 900 people living in the district for which they are running in order to appear on the Primary ballot. Candidates not running under these eight major parties do not appear on the Primary ballot and have a separate set of deadlines.
July 12 - Deadline for major party candidates to file petitions.
July 10 - First day for unaffiliated candidates to circulate petitions, in order to appear on the ballot in the General Election. They must collect the number of signatures equal to five percent of the total enrolled in that party.
August 7 - Board of Elections announces candidates appearing on the Primary ballot.
August 17 - Last day for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the Primary Election.
August 21 - Deadline for non-major party candidates to file petitions to be included on the General Election ballot.
September 4 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the Primary
September 10 - Last day to personally deliver application for absentee voting in the Primary Last day to postmark absentee ballot for Primary
September 11 - Primary election; Polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m.; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.
September 25 - Runoff Primary election for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, if needed
October 12 - Last day to for non-absentee voters to register to vote in the General Election
October 30 - Last day to postmark application for absentee voting in the General Election
November 5 - Last day to hand-deliver an application for absentee voting, or to postmark an absentee ballot for the General Election.
November 6 - General Election; polls open at 6:00a.m. and close at 9:00p.m. in NYC; Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered by 9:00 p.m.

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