Here we go. Get ready for several Democratic Town Committee primaries across the city in March. So far five potential district challenge slates have requested petition sheets from election officials to wage primaries including the 132nd District where newly elected school board member Howard Gardner and newly elected to the City Council Bob Halstead have joined forces to try to seize control of the West Side from a veteran slate that includes former City Council President Lisa “Honey” Parziale.
Assuming the challenge slate is certified to run based on securing five percent of signatures from registered Dems in the district this could be a mighty neighborhood fight.
Consent forms have been issued to challenge slates in the North End 135th District, East Side 136th District, East Side 137th District and Upper East Side 138th District, according to election officials.
Some district battles such as the 137th District in the heart of Hispanic politics have been going on for years. But after last September’s primary drubbing of all endorsed Democratic candidates for school board and City Council, insurgents are feeling frisky about district control. Will this translate into more upsets?
Still with a competitive edge, Parziale has been through district wars for decades and won her seat as part of a primary challenge slate in 2008. She knows her district as well anyone and has a voter base she can still count on. John Olson and Evette Brantley, the council members from the district defeated by Halstead and Trish Swain last September, are also on the town committee.
The 132nd District includes the higher-turnout Brooklawn neighborhood, near the Fairfield town line, that votes at Central High School. The district runs below North Avenue to the Bassick voting precinct.
Halstead posted this on Facebook:
“Here we go again! our nine committee district slate consists of: Me, Howard Gardner, Trish Swain, Jessica Materna, Angel Echeverria, Stephon Wynter, Arlene Walsh, Mike Jacques, and Pierre Paige. A smart, mostly young, and diverse group. We seek to be the democrats for change!”
The 90-member Democratic Town Committee covers 10 districts. DTC members conduct party business, select a chairman and endorse candidates for public office. It is part of the so-called “Democratic Machine” that needs to be oiled. Town committee primaries are about as retail as retail can get. Identify your friends and drag them to the polls. The top nine vote producers among all the candidates win election to committee seats. So as many as 18 candidates, nine on each line, could be on the ballot with two competing slates, more with additional challenge slates.
Shortly after the primaries, the committee members will select a chairman. Current chairman Mario Testa was elected in 2008. He was also chairman during the Joe Ganim mayoral years. No word yet if there’s anyone mounting a serious challenge of Testa.