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Community Board 3 Chair Pulls Out of District Leader Race

By Lisha Arino | July 29, 2015 7:03pm
 Gigi Li with her pug Vito in Chinatown.
Gigi Li with her pug Vito in Chinatown.
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DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

LOWER MANHATTAN — The head of Community Board 3 is no longer running for political office, she announced Wednesday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, I learned today that I did not garner the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot,” said Community Board 3 Chairwoman Gigi Li in a statement.

Li, who became board chair in 2012, announced her intention to run for the Democratic female district leader seat in the 65th Assembly District, Part C, last month. The district — which is currently represented by civil rights attorney Jenifer Rajkumar — includes the Lower East Side, Battery Park City and Wall Street.

Li did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

Objections to Li’s candidacy were raised earlier this month, when the signatures she collected were called into question.

Candidates must collect signatures from 500 registered voters in order to be placed on the ballot, but an investigation found only 470 valid signatures out of the 1,515 collected overall, said attorney Martin E. Connor, who represented the two women who filed the objections against Li.

"Do the math. There were over a thousand invalid signatures," he said.

The Board of Elections was scheduled to hear the objections Wednesday, it confirmed last week, but Connor said neither Li nor a representative appeared at the hearing. The BOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to a lawsuit Connor filed in New York Supreme Court on July 17, there were irregularities in Li's campaign petition, including inaccurate or false residency and voter registration information and forged signatures.

Individuals also ratified the petitions, saying that they witnessed people signing their names, even though minors collected the signatures, according to the suit, which was first reported by Bowery Boogie.

Li denied any wrongdoing in her campaign.

“I want to be clear that the accusations of fraud are false and played no role in my withdrawal, and I want to thank all of my hardworking volunteers who devoted themselves to the civic process with integrity,” she said in her statement.

Lora Tenenbaum and Georgette Fleischer, who filed the lawsuit against Li, said they were not surprised to see her pull out of the race.

“In light of the evidence I saw, I find it hard to imagine how she could have continued [to campaign], said Fleischer, who is president of the Friends of Petrosino Square, a neighborhood group.

Li said she will continue to serve as CB3 chair “where I will remain passionately committed to improving our neighborhoods.”

“That commitment will never end — and I will always use my abilities where they are most needed for the good of our community. I look forward to continuing that work every day."

With Li's withdrawal from the race, Rajkumar will continue to serve as the area's district leader.

"It is my great honor and privilege to be re-elected as your District Leader. I will continue to serve our neighborhood with dedication, energy, and passion," Rajkumar said in a statement. "There is a lot of work to be done and I am ready to keep working for you."