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Governor Cuomo: We Need to Put Public Health First

Mel Gagarin
Mar 10 · 5 min read

Dear Governor Cuomo,

You were absolutely right to declare a state of emergency to address the current coronavirus outbreak. However, as we speak, hundreds of campaign volunteers and paid canvassers are spread out across New York City, collecting signatures to get candidates on the ballot for the upcoming June primaries at the state and federal levels.

Given the seriousness of the Covid-19 outbreak, I and the undersigned are writing to ask that the petitioning requirements be suspended or altered for the upcoming election for declared candidates.

In the city, local District Leader candidates, as well as State Committee and Judicial Delegates are required to collect a minimum of 500 signatures and Congressional candidates are required to collect a minimum of 1250 signatures from registered Democrats in their given districts to make it onto the ballot. However, we also know that campaigns aim to collect a much higher number, often three times, in order to safeguard against potential challenges in a legal but arguably undemocratic process that works to knock candidates off the ballot. In normal times we could make space to quibble over the particulars of election law, but given our current state of emergency, it is clear that this process is creating an unnecessary layer of potential exposure for all involved. When campaigns need to collect triple the signatures to safely make the ballot, they are tripling their chances of catching and spreading any given virus, including Covid-19. What is safe for a ballot is not safe for our communities, our volunteers, or our staff.

In the face of this public health crisis, it is wildly irresponsible to risk increased exposure for members of the public, as well as our own volunteers and staff, especially given the federal government’s lackadaisical response to the outbreak. As you know, states determine their own rules for placing candidates on the ballot. There is no magic to the minimum requirements set out in our state’s election laws. There are other states who require as little as 50 signatures from voters regardless of party affiliation.

As we have already seen in places like Italy, South Korea, and China, emergency rooms and ICUs have become overwhelmed, doctors are succumbing to illness themselves, and people are no longer receiving the care they need. My campaign has always been centered on reducing suffering. We are taking preventative measures on our own level, but our state government taking this step to further reduce harm would be both a benefit to our democracy, and to the public health of New Yorkers at large.

We understand the importance of maintaining a high level of integrity in our elections and propose that candidates be registered with the Board of Elections and/or FEC as of January 1st, 2020 to qualify for an exemption, and no restrictions placed on those running for volunteer party positions such as district leader. While these measures may seem drastic, we have no doubt that with no alteration campaigns will continue to power through the petitioning period, particularly insurgent campaigns which are susceptible and more likely to have their signatures challenged. This only ensures that petition gatherers are unnecessarily risking their health and the health of all they come in contact with as they try and meet their respective campaigns’ signature thresholds.

In asking for this change writ large, my campaign and the campaigns of the undersigned are putting the health of their opponents’ families and teams in the same regard as their own. We are asking you to do the same for all of our communities, and for all New Yorkers, as this affects the health and safety of the entire state.

We hope you take into consideration this request for the health of our citizens as well as our democratic processes. (Candidates who wish to sign-on after this letter has been published will be added as requests are received).

Sincerely,

Mel Gagarin
Candidate NY Congressional District 6

Shaniyat Chowdhury
Candidate NY Congressional District 5

Lauren Ashcraft
Candidate NY Congressional District 12

Maria Kaufer, RDN, CDN, CDE
Candidate District Leader and Judicial Delegate AD 28/Incumbent and Candidate for Re-election Queens County Democratic County Committee Member ED 23/AD 28

Anthony Miranda
Candidate Queens Borough President

Vigie Ramos-Rios
Candidate State Committee Assembly District 28

Melanie D’Arrigo
Candidate NY Congressional District 3

Mary Jobaida
Candidate NYS Assembly, Assembly District 37

Catriona Scholosser
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 27

Mark Morrill
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 27

Nick Haby
County Committee Representative/District Leader Candidate Assembly District 36

Peter Beadle
Candidate District Leader and Judicial Delegate AD 28/Incumbent Queens County Democratic County Committee Member ED 56/AD 28

Emily Gallagher
Candidate NYS Assembly, Assembly District 50

Moumita Ahmed
Candidate District Leader, Assembly District 24

Shawna Morlock
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 36

Miriam Bensman
Candidate Judicial Committee Assembly District 28

Melissa E. Bair, CNM, WHNP-BC
Candidate for Democratic District Leader, 30th Assembly District, Part B
Queens Democratic County Committee Member representing ED41/AD30

Steven Goffner
Candidate State Committee Assembly District 28

Sahand Shahrabani
Candidate County Committee Assembly District 28

Garfield Holland
Candidate NYS Assembly, District 87

Emilia Decaudin
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 37

Heather Dimitriadis
Candidate Judicial Delegate AD 28/Incumbent and Candidate for Re-election Queens County Democratic County Committee Member ED 42/AD 28

Peter Harrison
Candidate NY Congressional District 12

Sandra Choi
Candidate NY Congressional District 6

Skyler Johnson
Candidate NYS Senate, District 1

Alison C. Abulafia
Candidate District Leader AD 28/Incumbent Queens County Democratic County Committee ED 21/AD 28

Michael J. Connor
Incumbent ED 85/AD 23 and Candidate for election to Queens County Democratic County Committee ED 12/AD 23

David Karayof
Candidate NYS Assembly, District 5

Will Schleisner
Candidate NYS Assembly, District 2

Dylan Rice
Candidate NYS Assembly, District 8

Danielle Brecker
Candidate NYS Assembly, District 37

Rachel Eve Stein
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 52

Pamela Stewart-Martinez
Candidate NYS Senate District 32

Jeremy Buchman
Queens County Committee AD28/ED38

Joey De Jesus
Candidate NYS Assembly District 38

Nuala O’Doherty-Naranjo
Candidate NYS Assembly District 34

Evan Karl
Queens County Committee AD30/ED78

Dawn Siff
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 34

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
Candidate NYS Assembly District 34

Jonathan Herzog
Candidate NY Congressional District 10

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer
New York City Council District 26

Tomas Ramos
Candidate NY Congressional District 15

Isiah James
Candidate NY Congressional District 9

Samelys Lopez
Candidate NY Congressional District 15

Zohran Kwame Mamdani
Candidate New York State Assembly District 36

Joshua Sauberman
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 26

Mike Sax
Candidate NY Congressional District 2

Jonathan Ortiz
Candidate Congressional District 15

Greg Fischer
Candidate Congressional District 1

Khaleel Anderson
Candidate NYS Senate District 31

Charlton D’souza
Candidate NYS Assembly District 33

Katherine Walsh
Candidate NYS Assembly District 51

Samy Nemir
Candidate District Leader Assembly District 53

Nora Higgins
Candidate New York State Senate District 1

CC: NYS Board of Elections Commissioners Peter Kosinski, Douglas Kellner, Andrew Spano. NYS Board of Elections Executive Directors Todd Valentine, Robert Brehn. NYS Sen. Zellnor Myrie, NYS Assemblymember Charles Levine, NYS Democratic State Committee Jay Jacobs, NYS Republican State Committee Nick Langworthy

Written by

Stay-at-home dad. Organizer. Queens native, running to rep New York’s 6th Congressional District. 100% Queens. Change can’t wait, donate: https://bit.ly/2NzuMQF

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