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After ‘no-challenge pledge,’ Singh files petition objections

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City Council candidate Swaranjit Singh filed general objections to petition signatures submitted by his two rivals for the seat — state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) and Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich — after he pledged not to do so and faxed Weprin a letter urging him not to use the tactic.

“It’s interesting that the candidate who would say ‘don’t challenge petitions’ ... is the one who would challenge petitions,” said Dirk McCall, Weprin’s campaign manager.

Weprin said he was not concerned by the challenge because he did not believe there were flaws in his filings.

He declined to attack Singh for the challenges, although he said he “was surprised [Singh] was challenging people’s petitions.”

“It is what it is,” Weprin said.

Singh said he only filed the objections in case Weprin tried to file his own after Singh said Weprin would not take a “no challenge pledge.”

Singh was the only candidate in the race to file general objections to signatures needed to get on the September Democratic primary ballot.

“If [Weprin’s] not challenging us, we are not challenging him. End of story,” Singh said.

Abhijit Rikhy, Singh’s son and campaign treasurer, said the general objections were filed to keep the campaign’s options open, but that it would not pursue specific objections to Weprin’s petitions.

Singh could not give an explanation as to why he challenged Friedrich’s petitions.

“I don’t know why he’s challenging and people are tired of political shenanigans,” Friedrich said.

Friedrich declined to say whether Singh was being a hypocrite by filing the objections.

“I think people should draw their own conclusions,” Friedrich said. “I was very surprised to see my signatures being challenged and my signatures are legitimate.”

Singh wrote a letter to Weprin, dated June 22, after he said Weprin supporter Marc Haken threatened to challenge his petitions and throw him off the ballot.

“I am very disappointed to hear this, Mark,” Singh wrote. “We have known each other a long time, and these stale campaign tactics do not belong in this election — it serves only to make you look like a stereotypical ‘career politician.’ The community we all wish to serve is better than this.”

Singh threatened to take full-page ads in local Queens weekly newspapers to notify the community if Weprin challenged his petitions “because these tactics are not okay and should not be looked at as being ‘business as usual.’”

McCall denied Singh’s claim that Weprin was noncommittal about whether he would challenge his petitions.

“Mark told him straight to his face that he wouldn’t challenge him,” McCall said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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