Opinion: Divide and conquer

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

When a vacancy in a state legislative office occurs just before the start of a new session in January, it is customary for the governor to set a special election as early in the new year as possible. Otherwise, constituents from that district are deprived of representation in Albany.

Given the fact that the critical work on the state budget occurs in the months before April, it is even more imperative that vacancies in the State Assembly or State Senate be filled ASAP.

I was elected to the Assembly in a special election on February 14, 1978 when my predecessor left his Assembly seat in the middle of his term on December 31, 1977. Similarly, when I retired from the Assembly at the end of 2005, my successor was also elected to fill my vacant seat in February.

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Kavanagh to run for NY Senate

Brian Kavanagh

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A few hours after State Senator Daniel Squadron announced he’d be leaving Albany, citing special interests and corruption preventing true democracy from taking place as a reason, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh said he’d be running for the position.

Since state elections aren’t until next year, the election for the Senate seat, which covers downtown Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, will be a special election. The date would be determined by the governor though it will likely be in November during the general election for citywide races. Prior to that candidates will be nominated by the county committee for each party.

According to State Senator Brad Hoylman, this process tends to be an insider game, which would make it easier for a well-known candidate like a current elected official to get the nod from the party as opposed to an unknown aspiring lawmaker. While Hoylman admitted he thought this process could use some reform to become more egalitarian, he nonetheless praised his colleague, an 11-year veteran of Albany, as a potential senator.

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