The First Department Court has reached a decision; Cameron Koffman is staying on the ballot for Assembly District 73.
Last Month, Assemblymember Dan Quart (D-Murray Hill, Lenox Hill) sued to remove his challenger, 22-year-old Cameron Koffman, from the ballot. The suit alleged that Koffman’s four years at Yale disqualify him from the assembly, which requires that candidates spend five continuous years as New York State residents prior to the election.
On May 14, however, the First Department Court officially dismissed Quart’s suit. The court’s reasoning was that, while Koffman was living on-campus in Yale, his permanent address was still in New York. Furthermore, in 2017 Koffman served jury duty in New York County, and did not request exemption on the grounds that he was no longer a resident of New York.
“I think the case was pretty clear,” said Koffman. “I’m a New York resident; I grew up here, I paid my taxes here, I served jury duty here. I have every intent to be part of this community.”
Koffman called the decision a “very important ruling”, for reasons that go beyond his assembly bid. He hopes that the case will set a precedent that will encourage other recent graduates to run for office without fear that their years of living on-campus will impede them.
As Koffman pointed out, this wasn’t the first instance of an incumbent using the five-year residency rule to disqualify a challenger. Michael Marcantonio, who ran for Assembly District 12 in 2018, was disqualified for exactly the same reason.
“I’m generally stoked, because [this technicality] is something that has been abused by incumbents,” said Koffman. “Usually it was Republicans, but now my opponent, a Democrat, is doing it. They’re trying to keep young people from running… so I’m glad that the First Department saw this fight for what it was: a political one.”
Regardless, the incumbent stands by his position that Koffman does not belong on the ballot.
“The decision to reinstate Cameron Koffman despite his lengthy voting record in Connecticut is the wrong one,” said Quart. “It sends a simple but clear message: if you’re wealthy and well-connected, you can bend the law to your will. We will be appealing this decision and we expect the state’s highest court to affirm Judge Edmead’s ruling.”
UPDATE: As of May 19, the Court of Appeals has officially denied Quart’s appeal.