Toney loses badly
March 2, 2007

Toney loses badly

by Nelson A. King in New York 02.MAR.07

Joel Toney, a former United Nations ambassador, pulled out all the stops in his zealous bid to get elected to a New York City Councilmanic seat in Brooklyn.

But, despite his profound optimism and well-organized campaign, he failed relatively miserably in the 10-way race in the Special Election in the Feb. 20.{{more}}

Toney was hoping to become the second Vincentian to be elected to the Council, endeavoring to follow the footsteps of Dr. Kendall Stewart, a younger brother of former New Democratic Party (NDP) Communications and Works Minister Glenford Stewart.

Unfortunately, the Calliaqua native secured only 369 votes, or 6.25 percent, placing 7th, according to preliminary New York City Board of Elections results – far below what many political observers had predicted. Toney was only able to beat Jamaican-born community activist Leithland “Rickie” Tulloch (299 votes); Panamanian entrepreneur Zenobia McNally (269 votes); and Jamaican domestic violence counselor Karlene Gordon (66 votes).

In contrast, Dr. Mathieu Eugene, a Haitian physician, won the race convincingly, garnering 1,982 votes, or 33.6 percent, of the 5,898 ballots cast on a relatively slow voter turn-out day.

Eugene made history by becoming the first ever Haitian to be elected to New York City Legislature.

But his victory has since been clouded over election law residency requirements, forcing his lawyer, Paul Wooten, to request the City Council not to swear him in until the results are fully certified by the Board of Elections. The Board was expected to do so later this week.

Eugene had listed the Brooklyn district of Canarsie, a few miles from the 40th Councilmanic District, as his address.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is seeking legal opinion on the residency law from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to determine whether to certify Eugene as the duly elected candidate.

Most pundits had put Toney among the top three candidates to capture the 40th Councilmanic seat, which became vacant when Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in last November’s general elections.

The erstwhile president and founder of the Friends of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Committee, the New York affiliate of the incumbent Unity Labor Party (ULP), said he did his “very best” to get out the votes.

“We had a very dedicated campaign team that worked up to the very last moment,” he said, in an Election Night interview, at his campaign headquarters on Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn.

“We did not leave out any aspect of our campaign,” added Toney, who fell from party grace when he supported his close friend, lawyer Stanley “Stalky” John, over the Ralph Gonsalves-led ULP in the 2001 general elections. John had trekked to New York to help campaign for Toney.

“It was well organized, our petitions went very well, we were not challenged by anyone for our petitions,” continued Toney, who, despite campaigning in the past for Clarke and her mother, Una Clarke, a former New York City Council member, failed to secure their endorsement. Instead, the Clarkes endorsed Eugene.

Toney, however, put a brave face on the election results, maintaining that he was a “very credible candidate,” who “well articulated” the issues.

Toney was the first candidate to question the residency of some of his rivals, labeling them as “imported candidates,” meaning that they do not live in the district.