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De Blasio signs bill barring some convicted felons from running for city office | amNewYork

De Blasio signs bill barring some convicted felons from running for city office

A new city law bans individuals previously convicted of a felony, such as twice-convicted former state Senator Hiram Monserrate, from seeking elected office.
Photo by Mark Hallum/QNS

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into a law a package of bills on Thursday, one of which will prevent felons convicted of betraying the public trust from running for city office again.

The name Hiram Monserrate comes to many for many in the political spheres of New York City when digging for precedence for such a bill and they would not be far off since the twice disgraced ex-pol refuses to exit public life after multiple brushes with the law, including theft of public funds.

But the bill does not end potential careers of anyone who was convicted of a crime and served their sentence, according to Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan who was the prime sponsor. 

“We no longer have the time for our elected officials who use a position of power to bankroll themselves to enrich their friends or to engage in wrongful dealings on the taxpayer dime, get caught, and then come back looking for more,” Brannan said. “To be clear, this is not about disqualifying those who have committed just any crime. Those who have committed crimes in their personal past and have paid their debt back to society in whatever form should have the opportunity to serve our city, no question, but the bar eligibility for anyone convicted of any crime… We’re not trying to broadly deny anyone a second chance. Of course I believe in redemption and second chances, but no one should be given a second chance at betraying the public trust as an elected official.”

In 2009, Monserrate was expelled from the state Senate for assaulting his girlfriend using a broken bottle as a weapon. Then he served two years after a felony conviction on conspiracy and mail fraud charges for misusing $100,000 in City Council grants to fund a political campaign for the Senate.

While the debate has lingered since he attempted to retake his old city council in northeast Queens in 2017, Brannan’s new bill should stop people with applicable convictions from running for office in the future. The bill comes as Monserrate has publicly decided to take another shot at Councilman Francisco Moya who beat him that year.

Others noted to have fended off a Monserrate comeback were the late state Senator Jose Peralta and he filed to run against Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry in 2019. He currently serves as a district leader in Queens.

Read the bill on the City Council website here.

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