08/28/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Off Ballot, Gerson Keeps Fundraiser On

Only hours after Council Member Alan Gerson was removed from the ballot by the city Board of Elections for a failure to resolve errors with his petitions, arrived at a previously scheduled 200-person fundraiser at the expansive Delight 28 banquet hall in Chinatown.

If Gerson was suffering any anxiety last night after just having been removed from the primary ballot, he did not show it, striking an unusually feisty tone.

Perhaps it had something to do with his surroundings.

As Gerson stood on the stage in front of the banquet hall next to Council Member John Liu (D-Queens), two people in Chinese dragon costumes jousted to the loud banging of Chinese drums.

Gerson went around the room, shaking hands with loyal supporters from elite Chinese-American civic and business associations, with campaign consultant George Arzt in tow.

Along the way, he stopped to pose for a shot with a group of young women.

“Does this look like a guy who’s not on the ballot?” Gerson joked.

In an interview while the fundraiser was going on behind him, Gerson said that he still officially considers himself on the ballot until a full hearing of the Board of Elections executive committee is conducted sometime next week. (This contradicts the position of the Board of Elections: BoE spokeswoman Valerie Vasquez said he was actually officially off the ballot, and this could only be changed if the New York County Supreme Court reverses the decision.)

Gerson also responded to a statement from opposing candidate Pete Gleason “commending” the Board of Elections decision and stating that Gerson’s removal from the ballot typified his “shoddy work ethic.”

“Pete Gleason is going to use this for political purposes,” Gerson said. “The printer made a mistake. It was a computer error.”

Gerson added that he had no regrets about trying to correct problems with his petitions himself, rather than hiring an election lawyer do it.

“An expert should not be needed,” Gerson said, saying that he had used all volunteers to collect over 7,000 signatures, while other candidates paid signature gatherers. “That’s wrong.”

As the crowd munched on lo mein and egg rolls, Gerson sat back down at the head table as several sword dancers took the stage stage, twirling two sabers through the air.

“Alan Gerson: You have to be a warrior for this community,” cried Virginia Kee, founder of the Chinese-American Planning Council. “That is why we have chosen the sword dance!”

Meanwhile, near the entrance of the restaurant, a handful of Chinese men in business suits filled out donation forms for Gerson with directions in both Chinese and English.

As he wrote a $50 check to Gerson, Man Nam Mallery, who works for the community group Open Door, said he had known Gerson from the days when the incumbent served as an attorney for the Chinese Business Council. He also said he always appreciated Gerson’s commitment to the community over his eight years in office.

As for Gerson’s problems with being on the ballot, Mallery said he was not much concerned.

“It’s a small matter,” he said. “I’ve heard that it’s been settled.”

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