Long Beach Democrats are preparing for a June primary election after seven candidates, including two incumbents, filed to run for three at-large city council seats.
Long Beach City Council President Anthony Eramo and Vice President Chumi Diamond filed petitions to run with Jim Mulvaney, a former journalist and co-founder of the special needs nonprofit, Surf for All.
The incumbent ticket will face a field of four other challengers, including a ticket by the New Wave Democrats that includes community advocate Liz Treston, strategic finance executive Karen McInnis, and retired city worker and union leader Ron Paganini.
Tim Kramer, a Long Beach auto leasing business owner and founder of the Waves of Hope charity, is also running for a Democratic nomination.
Besides the seats now held by Eramo and Diamond, the third available council seat is that of Councilwoman Anissa Moore, who announced in February that she would switch to run on the Republican Coalition ticket.
Each of the seven Democratic candidates returned petitions to the Nassau County Board of Elections last week to meet the 526-signature threshold to appear in the ballot. The New Wave Democrats reported collecting more than 1,200 signatures. Kramer said he collected 663 signatures.
“The city is in a difficult spot financially and dealing with a lot of infrastructure,” Kramer said. “People have been asking me to do more for our community, and I feel like I have a good shot.”
The Nassau County Democratic Party has backed Eramo, Diamond and Mulvaney in the election, and party chairman Jay Jacobs said he will not challenge primary candidates' signatures to make the June 25 ballot.
Jacobs acknowledges city Democrats are splintered into different factions and that resources are better spent on races in the county legislature, Hempstead and Oyster Bay.
“In Long Beach, some of the personal animus has superseded the issue of what’s best for the community. Between people wanting jobs and looking to be angry over perceived past slights, it has been a quagmire,” Jacobs said. “There comes a time to leave Vietnam, and this might be it. It’s beyond what I can do to bring these folks together. They have a war, and eventually it will shake out for a better result."
In previous elections, the county party’s attorneys contested signatures and petitions by committee members in a fractured Democratic Party.
“We would rather have Long Beach Democrats decide who represents them through a vote in the primary election, but know the incumbents have a history of playing hardball and challenging signatures, so we may have to do the same,” McInnis said. “We are confident in the validity of our petitions.”
Eramo, the city council president, said he has fought for the city during his past six years in office and said he will continue to stand up for residents.
“From keeping the city open to recovering from [superstorm] Sandy, we've accomplished a lot locally,” Eramo said. “We have made progress to strengthen our city, but there is still work to be done."