Gary Popkin

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Gary Popkin
Popkin-Gary 2005.jpg
Libertarian Party of New York
2006—April 25, 2009
Predecessor: Werner Hetzner
Successor: Sean Sherman
Personal Details
Birth: (1938-05-17) May 17, 1938 (age 84)
New York City, New York, USA
Party: Libertarian Party
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Gary Popkin (born May 17, 1938) is a Libertarian activist and candidate. He was Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of New York from 2006 to 2009. He was elected to the Brooklyn School Board in 1999. He hosted Hardfire, a Libertarian Talk Show which is broadcast on Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT).


Popkin Petition

The following is an account of the Popkin petition, written by Gary Popkin.

"I ran for Brooklyn Borough President in 2005 as a candidate of the Libertarian Party. Also running as Libertarians were candidates for Mayor of New York City, Public Advocate, Comptroller, and Queens Borough President. We put all five candidates on one petition sheet and I got 3,000 petition signatures from people in Brooklyn by getting 100 per day for 30 (non-consecutive) days over the 43-day petition period. The incumbent Borough President, Marty Markowitz, was very unpopular in some neighborhoods because of his involvement in the Barclays Center project and the threat of the use of eminent domain.

The Board of Elections did not like the form of my petition and threw me off the ballot. None of the signatures was challenged, nor anything else about the petition. I sued the board in State Supreme Court, the lowest court in New York State, and won. My attorney, Gary Sinawski, was not enthusiastic about my case. He is now dead. The board appealed the decision to the Appellate Division. I argued the case there myself. Why was this such a big deal to the board? Why didn't they just let it go? The board argued to the appellate judges that if this form of petition were allowed to stand, it would make too much work for them, to sort out the signatures attributable to Brooklyn Borough President from those attributable to Queens Borough President. I argued that the petition followed the Election Law exactly. I could go to Coney Island to get signatures before a concert. If someone said, "I'm from Staten Island" I say, "OK. sign, and your signature will count only for the citywide candidates." If a prospect was from Queens I could say, "OK, sign, and your signature will count for the Queens Borough President." At no time when I was collecting signatures did I misrepresent what the signature was for, and the board never charged me with any fraud.

The board also argued that a signer could not legally sign for Brooklyn Borough President and Queens Borough President. A signer could not be a resident of Brooklyn and Queens at the same time. I knocked down that argument by saying that some petitions routinely contain a congressional candidate, a candidate for State Senate, and one for State Assembly, and their districts can overlap in any ways. A signer need not live in all three districts to legally sign the petition. A signer needed to live in only one of the districts. The appellate judges agreed with me and unanimously affirmed the decision of the court below. You can see the appellate decision here:

You would think that would be enough for the board, but you would be wrong. The board asked the Court of Appeals in Albany (Albany, New York, the state capital) to hear the case but the court declined to do so. I was on the ballot. Within five minutes of the court decision, the state legislature made the form of the Popkin petition illegal. It is now not permitted to have on one petition sheet candidates for the same office in different districts, but some people continue to try. I heard a rumor that in the Bronx they once put all the candidates for City Council on one sheet, so wherever in the Bronx a signature was obtained it would count for some candidate or another."

Organizational Positions

Libertarian Party of New York
  • Treasurer (2006—2009)
  • Member, Interim State Committee (February 9, 2019—September 27, 2020)
  • Judicial District 2 Representative, State Committee (September 26, 2020—present)
Kings County/Brooklyn Libertarian Party
  • Temporary County Chair (2004—2006)
  • Chair (2009—2010)
  • Representative to State Committee (2011—2012; 2015—present)

Political Campaigns

  • United States House of Representatives, New York District 11, 1994
  • Brooklyn School Board, 1999
  • Brooklyn Borough President, 2005
  • United States House of Representatives, New York District 11, 2014
  • New York State Assembly District 52, 2018