CORONA — Three candidates were booted Tuesday from the primary ballot in a once-crowded City Council race after a challenge to their petition signatures by the "Queens machine" that bullies "those who haven't kissed the ring," according to one challenger.
Cristina Furlong, Erycka Montoya and Yonel Letellier Sosa — who had submitted petitions to run for the seat that will be vacated by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland — were kicked off the ballot at the Board of Elections hearing after Assemblyman Francisco Moya's campaign challenged their signatures.
In Sosa's case, he hadn't listed the office and district he was running in. For Furlong and Montoya, they were unable to validate enough of the signatures to reach the 450 minimum, officials said.
It came down to just 22 signatures being disputed in Montoya's case, and she pleaded with the board for more time to defend them. But she was still removed, and she later blasted the "Queens County machine" for disenfranchising a female candidate.
"Their behavior in filing these frivolous objections and their behavior today during the hearing is nothing short of atrocious and undemocratic," she wrote in an email sent out to her supporters.
She said she was bullied for not "kissing the ring" of party boss Rep. Joe Crowley — who has been vocal in his support for Moya — and said it's a "grave and horrific injustice - not only to my candidacy, but the civic process."
"I will not allow this abuse of power to go unchecked," she wrote, vowing in the meeting to "keep fighting."
A spokeswoman for Crowley did not respond to a request for comment. Moya's spokesman said the campaign "worked diligently to meet the modest signature threshold and that this is the same standard that all campaigns are held to."
The City Council campaign is now between Moya and Hiram Monserrate, who held the council seat for seven years before he was removed from the state senate for assaulting his girlfriend and served time in federal prison for fraud.
The primary will be held Sept. 12.