On NY Primary Day, can people in violation of the law become lawmakers?

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NEW YORK — On the ballot in Tuesday's New York primary election will be candidates for more than 60 offices across the state.

But herein New York City, at least two races are reminders that a wide array of people seek to become lawmakers, including some that are in violation of the laws they wish to make. In one case, a candidate has been feloniously in violation of the law.

Hiram Monserrate was a state senator from Queens when, in 2009, he was convicted of assaulting his then-girlfriend, Karla Giraldo. It was a felony conviction, but it spurred Monserrate's colleagues to suspend him from the state senate.

The next year, he was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy over $109,000 in public funds that he allegedly took to illegally finance his re-election campaign.

That conviction, for which he served nearly two years behind bars, now prevents Monserrate from running for senate again, but it's not stopping him from running for elected office.

He's on the ballot for Democratic district leader for Northern Queens. It's an unpaid position, but winning it and serving out a term could possibly relaunch Monserrate's political career. However, the odds may be long.

"It's not paid," said incumbent District Leader George Dixon, "but it is very rewarding."

Monserrate is running against him for the seat in a district known for its stability and for residents' satisfaction with their quality of life.

So for Monserrate to be able to pull off a victory here may be a stretch. Still, that didn't stop Dixon from pointing out that Monserrate moved in to the district well after his prison sentence ended four years ago, possibly just to mount a return to public life.

PIX11 News called Monserrate and went to his home, seeking comment, but he was not reachable.

PIX11 News also attempted to reach Monserrate's former girlfriend, Giraldo, but her listed address is actually a sports bar and restaurant in Jackson Heights.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, housing advocate Debbie Medina is running hard for state senate, a position she has sought unsuccessfully in the past.

This time though, she's doing so despite having admitted in open court to years of beating her son with a belt.

The admission came during testimony she gave four years ago in the penalty phase hearing for the very son she admitted to beating. He was convicted in Pennsylvania of torturing and murdering his girlfriend's 3-year-old child. Medina begged the judge to spare her son's life.

Her plea prevailed and her son, Eugenio Torres, 28, is now serving a life sentence for the brutal murder. His mother now seeks to join New York's upper legislative chamber.

"I don't negative campaign," said State Sen. Martin Dilan, a Democrat, regarding his opponent's personal struggles with the law. "People are more concerned about housing and where their next paycheck is."

He did, however, criticize Debbie Medina's housing advocacy, saying that it has ended up putting some of his constituents "in housing court."

Medina, who has secured endorsements from the Working Families Party and others, did not as yet respond to a request for comment.

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