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Guillermo Linares, who joined the race for the City Council 10 seat after the incumbent Miguel Martinez abruptly resigned last month before pleading guilty to three felony charges, was disqualified from running on Wednesday, according to the New York City Board of Elections and sources.
In response to a challenge by two registered voters, Youarina Duarte and Juana Tejada, the Board of Elections’ 10 commissioners voted unanimously to nullify the decision by Martinez’ three-person committee of vacancies, which had signed over to Linares the former Council member’s roughly 5,000 petitions to run. The disqualification was due to inaccuracies with the address filed for at least one of the committee members on the paperwork.
In a statement, Linares said he was disappointed by the board’s decision.
“I want to thank the thousands of residents of Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill that I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to while campaigning over the past few weeks. Your warm reception of my candidacy and your encouragement made it clear to me that my decision to resign as commissioner and run to represent you in the City Council was the right one. I leave the race with no regrets thanks to your support. I look forward to continuing to serve you.”
Valerie Vasquez, a spokesperson for the BOE said that Linares' only recourse is a legal one. Linares would have to take the matter before a judge and contest the board’s ruling. Linares said he will not take that step.
This latest twist in the ongoing political drama ensures that the next City Council member for District 10 will be a fresh face, since Linares had represented the largely east of Broadway territory from 1991 to 2001.
Among the front runners based on the amount of money they’ve raised are the political activist and educator Ydanis Rodriguez, $67,798, Community Board 12 Chair Manny Velazquez, $16,765, and Ruben Dario Vargas, $12,190.
Reached by cell phone Wednesday afternoon while he was on Broadway at W. 177th Street, Rodriguez, who twice lost Council races to Martinez, said the decision by the Board of Elections doesn’t change how he is campaigning.
“I am meeting voters to restore honesty, dignity and transparency to politics in our community,” he said. “I encourage Guillermo Linares to join us and be part of this political movement that will be working together to improve the quality of life.”
Earlier in the day he had campaigned at local train stations, attended a press conference with State Senator Eric Schneiderman to announce a new anti-graffiti initiative and visited with representatives from D.C. 37, a union.
Candidate Manny Velazquez, on his way to greet voters at the Dyckman Street and Broadway A-train station, said he did not celebrate the decision, but was glad the democratic process worked.
“We would invite all those out there that do not have a candidate to give our campaign a second look,” Velazquez said.
Interestingly, the objectors, Duarte, who lives on W. 164th Street, and Tejada, who lives on Ft. Washington Avenue, also filed objections to other candidates.
Both filed their objections on July 16, and both also objected to Miguel Martinez’ candidacy, even though he had already stepped down from the seat. Tejada also filed objections against Vargas, Velazquez and Facundo.
The remaining five candidates are Francesca Castellanos, Luis Facundo, Richard Reamulto, Cleofis Sarete and Francisco Spies. The Democratic Primary will be held Tue., Sep. 15.
The Manhattan Times is the bilingual newspaper of Washington Heights and Inwood.