Race to succeed Al Vann and Letitia James in City Council heats up

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Rev. Robert Waterman, candidate for 36th City Council District.
Rev. Robert Waterman, candidate for 36th City Council District.

By Stephen Witt
All four candidates looking to succeed term-limited City Councilman Al Vann and serve Bedford-Stuyvesant, Weeksville and parts of Crown Heights in the 36th Council District will probably be eligible to opt into the city’s public campaign finance money, according to their most recent Campaign Finance Board filings.

The candidates include Robert Cornegy, Rev. Kirsten John Foy, Rev. Dr. Robert Waterman and Rev. Conrad Tillard.

Under the city’s public matching funds system taxpayers pay six dollars for every dollar raised on city resident contributions up to $175. Under this system, candidates can spend no more than $168,000 for the September Democratic primary and $168,000 for the November general election
Foy, who has some union support and is a longtime political activist, has raised about $44,000 while spending about $28,000 leaving him with about $16,000 in cash on hand. He has put in a claim of a little more than $15,000 for matching funds meaning if this claim is accepted he will receive about $90,000 in matching fund.
Cornegy, the male Democratic Party district leader and president of the powerful Vanguard Independent Democratic Association (VIDA), raised slightly more than $35,000 while spending nearly $25,000 leaving him with about $10,000 in cash on hand. However, he is putting in a matching claim about $21,500, which would make him eligible to get about $129,000 in matching funds.

Waterman, minister of the Antioch Baptist Church, 828 Greene Avenue, raised about $37,500 and spent about $11,400 leaving about $26,100 in cash on hand. He put in a matching claim of about $23,200, which if it holds up will give him $139,200 to spend on the election in matching public funds.

Tillard, minister of the Nazarene Congregational Church of Christ, 506 McDonough Street, filed funds with the board for the first time since recently announcing he’s running. Thus he raised about $14,000 and spent about $3,200 leaving him with about $11,800 on hand. He put in a matching fund claim of about $6,000, which makes him eligible for about $36,000 in public money.

In the neighboring and wealthier 35th Council District, art curator Laurie Cumbo remains the top fundraiser in the crowded Democratic field to replace 35th District City Councilwoman Letitia James, who is running for public advocate, but several other candidates are showing this also will be a very competitive race.

The district includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights.
According to her most recent filings, Cumbo has amassed about $89,200 and spent about $32,700 leaving her with about $56,500 on hand. She put in about $29,500 as a matching fund claim that if it holds up means she has reached the $168,000 limit in matching funds to spend on the primary.

Also appearing to reach this threshold is Ede Fox, the former chief of staff for City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who raised about $63,600 and spent about $38,200 leaving her with about $25,400. She put in a claim of about $32,700 for matching funds.

Attorney Jelani Mashariki raised a little more than $34,000 and spent about $22,400 leaving him with about $21,000 on hand. He put in a matching claim of about $17,300, which if approved by the Campaign Finance Board means he will get about $103,000 in matching funds.

Among the new candidates to watch in this race is former female Democratic District Leader Olanike Alabi, who raised a healthy $31,200 in her first filing for the race while spending only $239. She also put in a claim of about $15,000 for matching funds, which could mean she will get an additional $90,000 of public money to spend in the upcoming primary.

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