Opponents Accuse Cornegy of 'Machine Politics' After Petition Objections

By Paul DeBenedetto on July 18, 2013 9:45am 

 Robert Cornegy filed petition objections against three of his city council opponents in central Brooklyn, something they said proves he's a "machine candidate."
Robert Cornegy filed petition objections against three of his city council opponents in central Brooklyn, something they said proves he's a "machine candidate."
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — City Council candidate Robert Cornegy last week filed ballot petition objections against three of his opponents, a move his opponents are using as proof he's a "machine candidate."

In the race to replace term-limited Congressman Al Vann in Central Brooklyn's 36th district, each of the candidates is trying to tout his anti-establishment bona fides.

Although he ran against Vann in the last election, Cornegy is now the president of Vann's political club, the Vanguard Independent Democratic Association, which has prompted his opponents to dub him part of Brooklyn's political machine throughout the race.

"It’s unfortunate that rather than letting the voters decide on Election Day, a campaign would use arbitrary challenges in an attempt to kick candidates off the ballot," opponent Kirsten John Foy said in an email. "While some seem to be fixated on the machine politics of old, our campaign is focused on talking to voters about my progressive record of activism and organizing.”

Cornegy, the 56th assembly district leader, was the only candidate in the race to file objections last Thursday, in a move opponent Robert Waterman called "politics at its worst."

"This is a desperate attempt by Robert Cornegy to undermine the democratic process," Waterman said.

But Cornegy only filed a general objection to each candidate, something he said was standard.

"A general objection allows you an opportunity to look at peoples' petitions," Cornegy said. "For some reason no one else in this race decided to do that."

Petition signatures for a candidate to get on the ballot can be found invalid if they're missing dates, have unclear addresses, if voters or canvassers aren't registered in the candidate's party or if voters who already signed a petition for another candidate in the race, according to Crain's New York Business.

Since filing the general objections, Cornegy said he called his opponents to say he would not move forward with detailed objections.

Conrad Tillard, the head pastor at Nazarene Congregational Church who is also running to replace Vann, confirmed the call and said he takes Cornegy at his word. But the pastor also said he was especially upset with the objections in light of the Supreme Court recently striking down a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act.

"I made a decision, and directed my campaign not to challenge on any level," Tillard said. "I don't believe in that. Especially in a race like this when, for the first time in 30 years, voters have a chance to hear candidates on an equal footing."

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