Real-estate broker Barbara Capozzi, who finished 40 votes behind state Rep. Kenyatta Johnson in the May 17 Democratic primary for nomination to a City Council seat, has challenged those results in court.

Capozzi, in a suit filed Monday, claims "widespread irregularities" in the 2nd District race "compromised the election so severely that the results cannot be trusted to reflect the will of the Democratic voters."

Capozzi complains that the name of attorney Damon Roberts, who withdrew from the race before Election Day but too late for his name to be removed from the ballot, was taped-over in some polling places.

Capozzi is asking a judge to throw out all of the votes in polling places where Roberts' name was covered, order a new vote count and then declare a winner.

Alternatively, she asks the judge to declare there was no winner in the race.

Johnson spokesman Mark Nevins called the challenge "ridiculous" and a waste of money for the city.

"The dignified and honorable thing for Barbara Capozzi to do would be to accept the results with grace and class, but instead she's filed a specious and unspecific lawsuit that would have the court throw out votes from entire divisions, disenfranchising large communities of voters," he said.

A judge on May 10 removed Roberts as a candidate and ordered that a notice advising voters of that fact be posted at every polling place in the district.

Roberts collected 319 votes, which were not counted. Capozzi claims he would have collected thousands more votes if his name had not been covered up.

Race is a key factor here: Capozzi is white; Johnson, Roberts and community activist Tracey Gordon, who finished third in the primary, are black. Capozzi claims that Johnson repeatedly urged Roberts to get out of the race.

"Given the racial demographics of the field and the district [approximately 49 percent of the residents are black and approximately 35 percent are white] Mr. Johnson made a concerted effort to secure his spot on the ballot as the only black candidate in the race," Capozzi's challenge says.

What it doesn't say: The race to replace retiring Council President Anna Verna started as a crowded field but, one by one, Italian-American candidates bailed out and their names were removed from the ballot.