The battle for control of Democratic Town Committee seats on the East Side’s 137th District turned out to be just that with a challenge slate led by former City Council members Tito Ayala, Gilberto Hernandez and Maria Valle claiming unofficially five of the nine seats, winning the machine counts in both precincts and surviving the absentee ballot operation of opponent City Councilwoman Lydia Martinez who managed to maintain her district seat. The results are so close that a recount will take place Monday morning when all required candidates are available.
In the 131st District the veteran slate led by District Leader Mitch Robles and former State Rep. Americo Santiago won all nine seats. The machine totals particularly at the City Hall precinct were competitive, but the challenge slate was croaked by Robles’ and Santiago’s absentee ballet operation in the South End. Robles and Santiago ran ahead of the opposition slate by roughly 100 absentee ballots. More absentee ballots were cast in this district primary than in the Democratic mayoral primary last September.
The unofficial winners in the 137th District, according to the Democratic Registrar’s Office:
Maria Valle, Lydia Martinez, Gilberto Hernandez, Aidee Nieves, Tito Ayala, Maria Andino, Maria Rivera, Juan Hernandez and Vidal Agosto.
Valle, Giberto Hernandez, Nieves, Ayala and Juan Hernandez ran on the same slate. All of the challenge slate’s nine candidates won the machine totals at both Marin School and Bridge Academy. Lydia Martinez, though it was enough to keep her seat, reeled in her absentee ballot operation in this primary perhaps conscious of the $500 fine she received a few months ago from the State Elections Enforcement Commission for absentee ballot manipulation.
The 131st slate winners: Jack Banta, Paul Boucher, Leticia Colon, Jose Negron, Mitch Robles, Americo Santiago, Milagrosa Seguinot, Dense Taylor-Moye, Ashley Wacker. Colon and Taylor-Moye are members of the City Council.
Former City Councilman Ralph Mojica was the leading vote getter among the opposition slate that included mostly newcomers to city politics that ran on a platform of not accepting paid city positions. They received a lesson in how veteran politicians can run up a win canvassing the district for friendly voters and absentee ballot opportunities. Both Robles and Santiago have manipulated the district for years. Their slate averaged about 120 absentee ballots to the 25 by the opposition slate.
Democratic Town Committee members endorse candidates for office and elect a chairman. Mario Testa is expected to be voted in for another two-year term as chairman next week.