6 southeast Queens candidates get matching funds

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Six of the 24 southeast Queens candidates for City Council have received matching funds from the Campaign Finance Board.

Fifteen of the candidates on the ballot in southeast Queens applied for the finance board program, but most of them did not qualify for the Aug. 16 payments and only two received funds in the first installment on Aug. 6.

The rest of the candidates hoping to replace City Council members Thomas White (D-Jamaica), Juanita Watkins (D-Laurelton) and Archie Spigner (D-St. Albans) failed to receive matching funds for several reasons, according to the Campaign Finance Board.

“That’s terrible! That’s pretty unfair,” Democrat Anthony Andrews Jr. said, reacting to the news that he was one of only two candidates running for White’s seat who received matching funds.

The board matches donations from residents of the city on a 4-to-1 basis up to $250 per donation, with a maximum total of $75,350. A $250 donation yields a $1,250 return for the candidate.

Andrews raised $33,715 and qualified for $50,804 in the matching funds, bringing his spending money up to $84,519.

“That gives me a competitive edge over my opponents who have not received funds,” Andrews said.

One of his Democratic opponents, Garth Marchant, raised $10,109 and received $34,736 in city dollars, boosting his total to $44,845.

“It definitely helps because the playing field is leveled,” Marchant said of the matching funds.

Two candidates in each of the other two southeast Queens races received matching funds.

Professor James Blake, who is vying for Watkins’ seat, received a $48,528 in two installments, bringing his funds up from $22,949 to $71,477.

“If you can get matching funds, it is the greatest resource to get your message out to the community,” Blake said. “Whenever you have an increase in resources you are at an advantage.”

His Democratic rival, Charlotte Jefferson, got $43,024 in matching funds, raising her monies from $20,615 to $63,639.

Democrats Leroy Comrie and Helen Cooper-Gregory also benefited from matching funds in the contest to succeed Spigner.

They received similar amounts of city funding: Comrie got $71,388 and Cooper-Gregory got a total of $75,310 in two installments, but Comrie raised more funds altogether, bringing his grand total to $117,881, while Cooper-Gregory has $101,093.

“I am right up there with the leading candidate,” Cooper-Gregory said of her financial earnings compared to Comrie’s. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from the people in the community.”

Five of the candidates in the three southeast Queens races did not qualify for matching funds because they are running for the Republican, Independence or Green parties, which are not holding primaries in those races.

Several other candidate failed to reach the fund-raising threshold of $5,000 from 50 city citizens. Others raised several thousand dollars, but filed their papers late or did not comply with other finance board guidelines.

Non-compliant candidates may have failed to return over-the-limit donations, received corporate funds or gotten contributions from non-registered political action committees.

Trevor Rupnarain, who is hoping to replace White on the Council, had so many contributors the board had trouble checking them all out, he said.

He reported he raised $64,095 from 269 contributors and submitted $32,295 for matching funds, which, had it been accepted, could have amounted to the maximum in matching funds: $75,350. He has not yet received any city money.

“I don’t blame the board,” Rupnarain said. “They are doing the right thing by being very careful.”

Those who did not received matching funds still have a chance to get them in the final two installments Aug. 31 and Sept. 7.

Two others hoping to replace White faced similar problems. Democrats Allan Jennings and Imam Aziz Bilal both submitted more than $5,000 for matching funds, but did not receive any money from the city.

Nine candidates running for Watkins’ seat remain in the race without city funds, including Democrats Amanda Clarke, Henrietta Fullard, David Hooks, Carol Howell, Edward Lewis and James Sanders.

In addition, Republican Everly Brown, Independent Rosalind O’Neal and Green Party candidate Francisco Pena will have to wait for city funds until after the Sept. 11 primary.

In the race to succeed Spigner, Republican Ishmael Morgan and Independent Cynthia Jenkins will not qualify for matching funds before the primary.

Others in that race, Democrats Erica Ford, Saundra Pope and Stephen Jackson did not participate in the finance board program. Democrat Larry Smith did not raise enough funds to qualify.

Democrats Geraldine Morgan and Earl Simons were recently removed from the ballot in that contest by the board of elections.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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