Making special elections less special

Daniel L. Squadron

May 25, 2011

Times Union

Capital Confidential

Posted on May 23, 2011 at 4:34 pm by Jimmy Vielkind

There’s a push in Brooklyn to make special elections less special, changing the process by which candidates are selected to fill electoral vacancies.

There are now four vacancies in the Assembly, and more pending (what with Assemblyman Will Boyland and Sen. Carl Kruger under indictment) that make now the time to do something, according to Lincoln Restler, a Democratic district leader in Brooklyn affiliated with the New Kings Democrats club.

“Brooklyn is the home to perhaps the most notorious political machine in the state. Empowering the county boss and the clubhouse to fill special election vacancies for the state legislature is frankly undemocratic,” he said.

Currently, major parties pick their candidates by a decision of party leaders. Upstate, it’s a klatch of relevant county chairs, and in New York City, the decision is made by the party’s county committee. There are at least two bills pending before the legislature to change the system.

Restler endorses one sponsored by Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Sen. Daniel Squadron to standardize the special election process for state-level vacancies with those of the New York City Council. This would result in non-partisan elections in which potential candidates could petition their way onto the ballot.

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