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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Christopher Marte was still waiting this week for the results of the Sept. 12 primary election in the First City Council District to be certified — but he indicated that he is, in fact, on the verge of conceding the race to Margaret Chin.
And yet, he also claimed a moral victory.
“I think losing by 200 votes shows we defeated her,” Marte said. “We need change. Having been a two-term incumbent, she’s entrenched. She had all the publicity. And having two other candidates take 10 percent of the vote.”
Had two other candidates — Aaron Foldenauer and Dashia Imperiale — not also run, Marte is certain he would have won.
“If either one of them had backed down, it would have changed everything,” Marte said.
There is some talk of Marte running in the November general election on a third-party line. Marte said he’s not ready to announce anything yet, but said that he might have secured the Independence Party line for the general election, because six registered Independence Party voters penciled in his name as a write-in on primary day, which may have been enough to win him the line.
As of press time, the Democratic primary election results still had not been certified. He said he’s hoping it will happen as soon as Thursday.
“No certification yet,” Marte reported. “According to our hand tally based off the counting of the affidavit and absentee ballots, Margaret ended up being 207 votes ahead. Absentee ballots trended toward Margaret because of the senior centers, but affidavit ballots trended toward me because of the last-minute poll-site changes for my home electoral districts, and the EDs where I was expected to do well.”
According to Marte, many supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden in and around Little Italy had their poll site changed from Allen St. to E. Fifth St., while residents of the Smith Houses had their usual poll site — one of the largest in the district — divided at the last minute into two different sites, causing confusion.
Affidavit ballots are used when a voter shows up at a poll site but his or her name is not on the list of registered Democrats for that district.
On Tuesday, the candidates were down at the Board of Elections office to observe the counting of 300-plus valid affidavit and 250 absentee ballots.
Even after the counting of the more than 550 ballots, the overall numbers didn’t change that much.
“Margaret did hold her margin,” Marte conceded. “We counted [a difference of] 207 [votes]. They counted 220. She prevailed. It’s sad for all of us,” he said. “We worked really hard and we did everything we could. We had a really good showing.”
Though he had not officially conceded as of press time, wanting to await the election’s certification, he clearly indicated that he planned to do so.
Marte said the margin of difference would have to had to have been lower — 0.5 percent — in order to go to court and demand a recount.
Plus, he added, “We don’t have solid evidence of irregularities.” While the poll-site changes were inconvenient and confusing, they were not illegal, he said.
Later that evening, Marte spoke at the full-board meeting of Community Board 2 and received an ovation, as he thanked everyone who supported his upstart campaign that shockingly nearly toppled a two-term incumbent.
Marte said his candidacy resonated with voters in Greenwich Village, Soho and the South Village “who had their platforms heard” through his campaign. On the other hand, voters in those areas were frustrated by “just the unresponsiveness of [Chin’s] office,” he said. He also had strong support at the polls in the Two Bridges area — between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges — where a coming explosion of “supertall” towers adding to one that has already been built threatens to radically transform the area. Marte also ran strongly in northern Tribeca and in the area around his home on Rivington St. between the Bowery and Allen St. up to Houston St.
Meanwhile, Chin did best in her core support base of Chinatown and Confucius Plaza. Even in many electoral districts that Chin won, she only bested Marte by one vote, he noted.
For his part, Foldenauer last week said he is definitely running again in the general election — in his case, on the Liberal Party line.
“Voter turnout was abysmal in the Democratic Primary, and only 5 percent of all registered voters cast their ballot for Margaret Chin,” Foldenauer said on Wednesday. “As the Liberal Party candidate, I look forward to reaching out to all 97,000 registered voters in Lower Manhattan and working to defeat Margaret Chin on Nov. 7.”
Both he and Imperiale have defiantly rejected being branded as spoilers in last week’s Democratic primary.
Marte thanked The Villager for hosting a debate among the primary-election candidates a few weeks ago at Judson Church. Though Chin ducked the event, Marte said, “it was the toughest debate” of the election season, and was a good way for the candidates to get their messages out to the community.
After the debate, one Soho activist, a Marte supporter, remarked that he was very worried at the presence of Foldenauer and Imperiale in the race.
“Chin always gets her 6,000 votes,” he said, worrying that the other three would divide up the rest. The two also-rans ultimately did rack up more than 1,100 votes between the two of them.