Pierson Advisor Chris Owens: Levin Trying To Keep Us Off Ballot

Steve Levin is trying to knock Brooklyn Heights resident/candidate for NYC Council D-33 Stephen Pierson off of September’s primary ballot. At least that’s what a statement released over the weekend from Pierson advisor Chris Owens alleges.

While Levin spent last week protesting the planned closure of LICH, Owens says that the councilmember’s minions were filing paperwork to knock his candidate off the ballot.

Levin responds and tells BHB in a written statement, “Contrary to my opponent’s assertions, I have not sued to take his name off the ballot nor do I intend to do so. General objections are a common campaign procedure meant to give staff extra time to review a candidate’s signatures. This process is transparent, public and helps keep our candidates and politicians honest. The review is now complete and we found no basis to file a formal challenge. I look forward to a spirited campaign and the chance to have a much needed dialogue about the issues facing voters in the 33rd district.”

Update:In his own written statement, Pierson tells BHB, “Filing a general objection to an opponent’s petitions is standard practice only in the corrupt world of insider Brooklyn politics. The fact that Levin thinks these Vito-Lopez-style tactics are normal shows how out of touch he is with the people of the 33rd District. I’m glad my opponent has backed down in the face of public outcry over this clearly undemocratic move, and I hope he’ll avoid similar tactics in the future.”

RELATED: Will Brooklyn Heights Resident Stephen Pierson Take Out Steve Levin?

BHB has asked Owens for a statement from the Pierson camp on the latest LICH developments. We have not received a response as of press time. (There is, however, a brief statement on his website about the matter.)

Here’s the full presser for your review:

Brooklyn, NY – Steve Levin, a member of the City Council who served for several years as Chief of Staff to disgraced Democratic County boss Vito Lopez, has challenged the nominating petition signatures collected by the campaign of Democratic reform candidate Stephen Pierson.

Levin’s campaign filed “general objections” against Pierson’s filing of 1,600 signatures. The minimum number of valid signatures required to get on the ballot for City Council this year is 450.

“I was not surprised to learn that Steve Levin fears an opponent so much that he is resorting to the same old machine political tactics as Vito Lopez,” said Stephen Pierson, a non-profit founder and administrator. “Steve Levin’s actions show that he continues to put politics before people. My campaign filed hundreds of valid signatures, we will be on the ballot, we are eligible for nearly the maximum amount of matching funds, and our volunteer base grows daily.”

“Levin has never had to face an election like this one – and he is panicking,” said Democratic State Committee member and Pierson consultant Chris Owens. “Stephen Pierson has the money, the volunteers, the campaign team, the determination to win this election and become the next City Council member from the 33rd District.”

“We expect the Levin campaign to utilize Lopez-like tactics, such as petition challenges, throughout the campaign,” said Campaign Manager Diana Gonzalez. “Attempting to deny voters a choice is Levin’s first misstep and we will be ready for any other mischief he chooses to perpetrate.”

Democratic voters in the 33rd City Council District will select either Pierson or Levin as their nominee on Tuesday, September 10 in the Primary Election.

Update: The potential closing (and rebuilding or sale) of the Brooklyn Heights Library is another hot button issue in this election. These YouTube videos offer a glimpse into each candidate’s position:

(Fast forward to about 11 minutes in for Levin’s comments regarding the Brooklyn Heights library)

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  • PB

    I am surprised to understand Levin is a democrat. These actions smack of Tea Party

  • welcometomoviefone

    we already knew Levin was pro-corruption; we now know he is anti-democracy as well. Thank you for that information Mr. Levin!

  • klowy

    It’s not true. Steve Levin is not trying to knock him off the ballot. I guess Chris is using the Republican playbook: tell a lie and people will believe it. An honest campaign might be a better choice. Below is a quote from Levin: “Contrary to my opponent’s assertions, I have not sued to take his name off the ballot nor do I intend to do so.”

  • Traif

    Levin has every right to review the petition sheets to see if fraud was committed. Pierson is a professional gambler that is known to play for money in illegal games like the one broken up at the Carlyle Hotel. Pierson should come clean about his winnings.

  • Topham Beauclerk


    I hold no brief for the Tea Party; I think its ideas are vile. But their tactics are no worse than those employed by the Republicans and Democrats. Our political system is irredeemably corrupt and, in its corruption, it magnificently serves the interests of both parties which is to say the interests of those who finance their campaigns.

  • Ernie

    Levin is correct. Filing General Objection is extremely common and basically meaningless. By July 12 (with the filing deadline for most general objections being midnight July 15) 103 General Objections were filed. If a campaign files “Specifications of Objections” then they are trying to throw a candidate off the ballot. Pierson’s protests are much to do about nothing.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I think Pierson’s continual attempts to smear Levin with the moniker “Vito Lopez protege” (it’s a smear because there are no alleged bad deeds to back it up) is a lot more reprehensible than Levin employing legitimate election law techniques.

  • Jrutland24

    So if Pierson is saying there’s a legal challenge and Levin is saying there’s no legal challenge, do we know who’s telling the truth?

  • chaps

    It’s possible to review signatures before filing a general objection. Why didn’t Levin do it then? And why did he retain Marty Connor as his election lawyer if he weren’t seriously considering trying to knock Pierson off the ballot? This “extra time” excuse sounds weak to me.

  • e

    I don’t know anything about Mr Pierson except what I read in the NY Times, but it seems pretty low to accuse him, anonymously and citing no evidence, of engaging in illegal activity.

  • andherewego

    Whether you believe the allegations or not is up to you but Pierson has definitely made specific claims re: Levin sending money out district to Vito’s ‘non-profit’ RBSCC which keeps getting investigated federally, look on the website.

  • andherewego

    Well it’s a two step process and it looks like Levin filed a preliminary legal challenge and then backed off before the second step after he got called out. So both?

  • bkdem

    First of all, the allegation that Steve Levin did something illegal when he sent money to Vito Lopez’s nonprofit is ridiculous. Councilmembers use discretionary funds at their …guess what… DISCRETION. And it’s not like he is the only politician who had to play ball with Vito. Politics is about COMPROMISING. Second even if you disagree, Vito is gone so there’s nothing left to worry about.

    Am I the only one tired of hearing Pierson attacking Levin with these negative Vito comments over and over?

  • Jrutland24

    My understanding is that general objections go through the BOE and aren’t a ‘legal’ thing. It looks like general objections just reserve the right to file the actual challenges later on, because you can’t put those in without first making general objections. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Levin actually files specific objections.

    But TBH I just looked it up here so I could be wrong:


  • Guest

    The fact that most of the commenters here created their accounts today and have only posted on stories about Pierson/Levin tells me this is probably a bunch of campaign interns jousting over a story nobody is reading.

  • Peter Pan

    Chris is just playing poker with the voters. Politics are just a game for him, a game he wants to win for the big payoff.

    Steve Levin is getting arrested to save our hospital. While Chris Pierson is busy bluffing and scheming to get his hands in the cookie jar.

  • Guest

    Who is Chris Pierson?

    Clearly you have no idea what is at stake in this election if you don’t even know the names of the candidates. Which leads me to wonder who sent you to post here?

  • welcometomoviefone

    So by ‘basically’ meaningless, they are not meaningless. I agree.

  • PB

    I wholly agree TB. Politics on both sides are the aisle are vile. Naive me thought that a progressive democrat [Levin] in a progressive district [Brooklyn/33rd] might be above that. I am too much the optimist.

  • Casey Adams

    Hey there BHB readers,

    Stephen Levin’s campaign manager here. Just wanted to offer some clarification- general objections are not a legal challenge and we’re not trying to knock candidate Pierson off the ballot. Without filing a general objection the campaign only has 72 hours to review all of the (in this case, 1600) signatures submitted. As the article notes, Stephen was busy with his day job working on LICH during that period. Once a general objection is filed, a campaign is given more time to prepare specific objections, which are what constitute an actual attempt to disqualify signatures. These were not filed because we did not find anything to which we wished to object.

    Reviewing signatures is a due diligence measure. The Board of Elections does not conduct their own review of signatures to ensure that all are valid and collected from voters in the district. As I’m sure candidate Pierson would agree, it’s good for our elections to make sure that the designating process is as clean and public as possible and this process contributes to that. Our own petition is also publicly available and we invite an equal standard of scrutiny from candidate Pierson’s team and members of the community at large.

    Steve has been committed to accountability and transparency in his first term, as evidenced by the participatory budgeting process he introduced to the district, and he wants these values reflected in his campaign as well. If you have any questions or concerns about the campaign I encourage you to contact us at levin2013@gmail.com.

    Stay cool this week,

    Casey Adams

  • swedish goose 66

    I am weary from all this back and forth over a simple “wanting to look over a candidate’s petitions.” If Pierson is so afraid of public scrutiny then why is he running for office. In the meantime, Steve Levin is earnestly trying to help save our libraries from closing and our local hospital from extinction.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    Vito isn’t “gone” yet. He’s running for a soon to be vacant City Council seat. Frank Seddio, a former ally of his who replaced him as head of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn, and BP Markowitz, have both endorsed his opponent. Nevertheless, Vito has been known to pull rabbits out of hats before. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/new-endorsements-lopez-foe-article-1.1376809

  • Guest

    Well, now it looks like it’s Pierson’s interns vs. Levin’s campaign manager.

  • Peter Pan

    Whoops, Stephen Pierson is the candidate (Player). And Chris Owens seems to be his shuffler (Dealer) of the accusations about the petitions.

    Same points of view coming from both Chris Owens, Stephen Pierson. Chris Pierson, Stephen Owen. All the same hustle from the poker boys.

    Me? Oh, I go to rallies to save LICH. But I haven’t been arrested to save the lives in the 33rd District. Steve Levin is working hard to save your lives, and deserves your vote in the 33rd.

  • dick caveat

    It’s a device used by incumbents to drain the coffers of political challengers. Remember, it’s what’s legal, standard practice in politics that warrants more outrage that anything illegal, unethical and shady. By the way… Pierson is NOT a professional gambler. He won a healthy prize at the World Series of Poker a few years back and used that money to found a literary magazine and an after school program for school children. Unlike Levin, Pierson actually does things other than ingratiate himself with corrupt political benefactors and integrate himself into a system where he controls the purse strings of our taxpayer dollars.

  • BKrunner

    I think it’s fairly obvious that general objections do not drain anyone’s coffers, Dick Caveat. Why on earth would someone hire a lawyer? There’s nothing specific to defend against. If Levin files a specific objection, then that would in fact be the case, but that hasn’t happened, he says he’s not going to file specific objections, and I think you know that. Therefore, your argument lacks merit.
    It seems here as if Pierson is making a lot of bluster, probably to distract from the fact that he doesn’t have much of a record to run on.

  • BrooklynBugle

    Yes, folks there’s a lot of astroturfing going on here. Therefore, we’ve disabled “guest” commenting for the time being.

    – Homer

  • Susan Raboy

    Has Stephen Pierson ever attended a Save LICH Rally?

  • klowy

    One thing this post has done is give Pierson more of a platform than he would have gotten with the truth (there’s no there, there). As for Chris Owens, he’s a friend of mine and I supported him when he ran for Congress. But I am really disappointed in these kinds of attacks. Chris, if you see this, please get back being the person I know and respect. You’re better than this.

    As for Steve Levin, I had my doubts when he was elected. But he won me over pretty quickly. When you look at his record over the past 4 years, he’s proven himself to be excellent and very responsive to our issues. I can’t think of one thing he’s done or spoken out about that I disagree with.

  • willowtowncop

    Are there issues in this election? What do the candidates disagree about?