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On Day One of Petitioning Political Candidates Brave the Cold to Gather Signatures

A voter signs his name (L) and Brent O’Leary, candidate for the 26th Council District (Photo: Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

March 2, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

Political candidates in Queens were out gathering signatures Tuesday–the first day candidates were permitted to solicit signatures in order to get on the ballot.

The candidates were calling on registered voters to sign their petition in their quest to generate the required number of signatures in order to get on the ballot. Many braved the cold and were canvassing across the borough.

Several city council candidates, who need 270 valid signatures in order to get on the ballot, could be found at subway stations seeking signatures from commuters. They need signatures from registered voters– Democrats if they plan to run in that primary– who live in their council district.

Candidates Brent O’Leary and Heajin ‘Hailie’ Kim, both running as Democrats to represent the 26th Council District, were seen in Sunnyside at the 46th Street Bliss station with clipboards in hand seeking the all-important signatures.

O’Leary, who set up a table by the entrance to the station, said that he had volunteers collecting signatures in various locations across the 26th Council District.

He said that getting 270 signatures is not as easy as it sounds and noted that he had volunteers in Woodside, Queensbridge and Hunters Point out gathering signatures. Candidates have until March 25 to submit them to the Board of Elections.

“We’re all across the district and we want to make sure that everybody knows that we are here,” O‘Leary said.

O’Leary, a Long Island City resident, said that his team is gathering signatures at outdoor venues due to safety concerns surrounding COVID-19. He said they are not doing conventional door-to-door canvassing.

However, volunteers and friends of the campaign are gathering signatures from people living inside their respective apartment buildings, he said.

Meanwhile, Kim’s team was gathering signatures from voters who were standing on the subway platform as residents were awaiting the train. She said that riders had time to sign before their train pulled into the station.

Kim, accompanied by two volunteers, was working the subway platform at 46th Street. She said that her team was also riding the 7 train and stopping at various stations along the route to petition voters.

She said that she aims to gather 1,000 signatures and is confident of making that target.

Heajin ‘Hailie’ Kim (L), a campaign volunteer (C) and a voter providing a signature (R) (Michael Dorgan, Queens Post)

“We’re not going to stop until we get them,” said Kim, a Sunnyside resident.

Kim said that her team is also not going door-to-door due to safety concerns. She said they are focusing on meeting people outdoors.

“The strategy is always to go where there’s going to be a lot of people from the district,” Kim said.

“We’re going to canvass hardest in my hometown [Sunnyside],” she said. “Around Sunnyside people are very politically engaged.”

Kim said that she is also using the time gathering signatures to ask voters about their concerns and how she could improve the district if elected.

“It sounds really cliché but I think we need to raise New Yorkers’ expectations for what their government can do for them,” Kim said.

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