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Nicole Paultre Bell among those vying for White's council seat

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

Several candidates have emerged for the special election to fill the seat of late City Council Member Thomas White in District 28 in Queens.

Seven candidates to be exact. Including the widow of Sean Bell.

Nicole Paultre Bell, Ruben Wills, Albert Baldeo, Harpeet Singh Toor, Charles Bilal, Martha Taylor Butler and former City Councilman Alan Jennings are all looking to take over for White, who passed away in late August after losing his battle with cancer.

Paultre Bell's main focus appears to be on education, the elderly and the New York Police Department's relationship with the local community. Bell has the backing of the Rev. Al Sharpton, City Councilman James Sanders and Rep. Gregory Meeks, but Bell's profile may be the only thing to hold on to. According to the Campaign Finance Board, as of last week, only 15 individuals have given money to her campaign.

Paultre Bell has received over $6,000 in campaign contributions. Her largest donation came from a physician in New Jersey named Christopher Kyriakides, who donated $1,350 to her race for the council seat. Wills, on the other hand, has over $50,000 in campaign cash, with the largest donation coming from Local 1182, a union that represents traffic agents, for $1,375.

Paultre Bell has faced a couple of other politically related battles recently. Jennings, after learning of Paultre Bell's candidacy in September, lashed out in an interview with the New York Daily News when he said, "She has name recognition? So did George Bush, but he couldn't get elected in this district."

A couple of weeks ago, Queens Judge Phyllis Orlikoff Flug threw out a challenge by Wills to remove Paultre Bell from the ballot. However, Paultre Bell had the 899 signatures from registered voters needed to participate in the election.

Wills is the considered to be the favorite of the Queens Democratic Party, though Sanders believes that the court's ruling will lead to Paultre Bell's victory. "This may turn out to be the decisive victory in this race. She has proven herself seaworthy," he said after the verdict.

Paultre Bell has picked up some victories as well. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) threw their support behind her recently. Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, said that Bell is "a resilient fighter that represents a new breed of political leadership that is willing to take a stand for economic justice to protect the rights of working people."

Whoever wins the special election on November 2 will serve until 2011. Afterwards, there will be another primary and election for the right to serve for the remainder of White's term. The term goes through the year 2013.