On Tuesday, February 19, residents in the Queens 31st council district that includes the communities of Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale and the Rockaways will go to the polls in a special election to elect a new City Council candidate. Michael Duncan and eight other hopefuls have jumped into this race.
The election is attracting an unusual amount of community and media attention because one candidate, Jacques Leandre, has filed objections with the Board of Elections and lawsuits in the Supreme Court against nearly all the candidates in the race. As it happens, all six contenders that Haitian hopeful Jacques Leandre is seeking to remove from the ballot are Black – Caribbean Americans and African Americans. The sole Jewish candidate in the race has been spared Leandre’s wrath.
Doug Muzzio, a specialist in American public opinion, voting behavior and city politics and a political analyst for ABC News has said that in a large field of candidates as is the case in Queens, a relatively small number of votes can win. “New York ballot access laws are intentionally byzantine, designed to allow party machines to thwart insurgents and reformers”, Muzzio said.
“What Jacques Leandre is doing here in trying to eliminate bona fide candidates from the city council race. This is an outrage to the residents of Queens and an assault on democracy”, an enraged voter, Lakeisha Thelwell complained. “This is plantation style slavery politics, it is very un-American and we won’t stand for it here in Queens”, she continued.
For his part, Michael Duncan understands clearly that he must bring out the Caribbean American voters to win the race on February 19. And community leaders in New York like Desmond Clarke of the Jamaica National Movement, Irwine Clare of the Jamaica Diaspora US Northeast Advisory Board, Jose Richards of the Sons & Daughters of Jamaica and Darnel Abellard of L’Association des Ouanaminthais, a Haitian organization, have all unreservedly endorsed Michael Duncan and are urging their members to throw their support behind Duncan on February 19.