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Nicole Paultre Bell edged out by Ruben Wills for council seat

Stephon Johnson | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.

In a highly contested race, Nicole Paultre Bell, the widow of Sean Bell, lost her race for New York City Council to Ruben Wills.

With results not decided until the wee hours of the morning in District 28, Wills took home 31.17 percent of the vote (3,347 votes total) and Bell finished with 25.3 percent of the vote (2,721 votes total). Albert Baldeo, Allan Jennings, Charles Bilal, Harpeet Toor and Martha Butler finished second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

Wills now takes over the seat left empty by Thomas White, who passed away this past August.

The campaign, leading up to Tuesday, was dominated by Wills challenging Paultre Bell at every turn. Several weeks ago, Queens Judge Phyllis Orlikoff Flug threw out a challenge by Wills to remove Paultre Bell from the ballot, but she had the 899 signatures of registered voters needed to participate in the election. That didn't stop Wills, however. Last Friday, Wills filed yet another complaint in court against Paultre Bell accusing her of financial disclosure irregularities regarding her campaign.

Citing news articles as his backup, Wills accused Paultre Bell of using Stanley Schlein, a Democratic operative, for her campaign and wondered how she paid him, considering her low campaign war chest leading up to Tuesday (just over $6,000). However, Wills' complaint states much more.

"The Wills campaign has encountered several Paultre Bell canvassers who stated they were being paid $11 per hour for canvassing," read the complaint. "In addition, these canvassers stated that they go to Manhattan--not to either of the Paultre Bell campaign offices in Queens--to pick up their walk-sheets. No disbursement, outstanding liability or in-kind contribution has been reported by the committee for canvassers and, as a result, the committee has failed to disclose expenditures and/or in-kind contributions."

After countless requests and dialogue with Paultre Bell's campaign spokespeople to set up an interview with the AmNews on the night of or the day after the election, she did not respond before press time.

Last week, Paultre Bell held a campaign rally with some of the city's more progressive public figures, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, City Council Members Letitia James, Jumaane Williams, Ydanis Rodriguez, James Sanders and Melissa Mark-Viverito. Paultre Bell also had the backing of major unions like the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which threw its support behind her recently.

Nevertheless, Wills, a former chief of staff to New York State Sen. Shirley Huntley, will take over the seat come January.