The race for the 24th City Council District is not over yet. Although Councilman Jim Gennaro was sworn into office on February 18, it was to finish the final year of his predecessor Rory Lancman’s term, as he had resigned to take a job with the State. Starting this week, Gennaro and other candidates seeking a full four-year term in this district are petitioning for the June 22 primary.

The number of required signatures for a candidate is only 270, which must be submitted between March 22 and 25. This threshold has been reduced by state lawmakers in recognition of the difficulty in gathering signatures during a pandemic. Signing a candidate’s petition does not mean the voter has to vote for this candidate in the election. To withstand challenges to the petition, candidates strive to exceed the number of required signatures. Doing so also demonstrates the popularity of their candidacies.

This publication reported on last month’s special election as one of the most closely-watched in the city, pitting Gennaro, an experienced former three-term Councilman, against a leftist activist who shared an anti-Semitic tweet in the past. In the days following her lopsided loss, she spoke of taking a break from Twitter and discussing her “next steps.”

It did not take long for her to return to a grievance campaign that blamed her loss on “billionaire bullies” rather than her past tweets, unrealistic economic policies, and unpopular political views.

Last Shabbos, she tweeted in support of releasing Mumia Abu-Jamal, an activist who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981. Lest anyone think that the justice system has failed him, Mumia failed at multiple appeals to his life sentence, but enjoys the support of activists and celebrities who share his political views.

Most voters in the Queens Jewish community elected Gennaro last month not because of mailers sponsored by individuals from outside the district, but because of a grassroots effort organized by rabbis, community leaders, and activists. They are calling on their neighbors to demonstrate that last month’s election was not an anomaly, but the beginning of a citywide movement where moderate and conservative voters are reclaiming the Democratic Party to ensure that it represents a wider spectrum of ideological views.

“We have to make sure that we are careful during COVID when petitioning,” said JFK Democratic Club President Jeff Kohn, whose organization is distributing petitions for Gennaro. “You cannot win this Council District without the 27th Assembly District.”

Early voting for the upcoming primary will take place between June 12 and 20, with the actual day of election on June 22. District 24 covers the neighborhoods of Kew Gardens Hills, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Briarwood, Jamaica, and Jamaica Estates.

At the same time that petitions are circulating in this district, signatures are being collected for council races in other districts, as well as those for Mayor, Comptroller, and Public Advocate.

 Anyone interested in signing the primary election petition for Jim Gennaro can contact me or Shabsie Saphirstein during the signature gathering period. Our support of Gennaro does not represent the Queens Jewish Link, which does not endorse candidates as a publication.

 By Sergey Kadinsky