Seward: Let People Vote On Comptroller, A.g. Vacancies

James L. Seward

February 13, 2007

Senator James L. Seward announced today that statewide special elections would be held to fill vacancies in the offices of state comptroller and attorney general under two reform bills introduced today by Republican senators.

"It's very simple - let the people decide," Seward said.

"We live in a democracy, and filling a vacancy at the statewide level should be treated as such," said Senator Griffo, chair of the Senate Elections Committee. "New York should take the same approach to filling statewide vacancies as we do in local positions. The most open process is a process where candidates are forced to make their case to the voters. Amending the constitution to give the people the choice over who should represent them is true reform."

"Reforming the process to hold a special election to fill these vacancies would provide greater openness and transparency and empower the voters to choose the best candidate," Senator Bruno said. "In a statewide election, the decision of who should fill offices of such importance needs to be made at the ballot box, not in the back room.

"The selection of a state comptroller last week generated so much controversy and political debate that it has taken the focus away from governing and reviewing the governor's budget," Senator Bruno said. "The Senate's reform plan would avert this situation in the future by putting the debate before all the people of the state to choose a new comptroller or attorney general."

"There is no purer form of democracy than letting the people decide who should serve as their elected representatives in state government," said Senator Joe Robach. "As part of the Senate Majority’s ongoing efforts for meaningful government reform, this is just another logical
step in the right direction. This legislation gives the power back to the people where it belongs, and provides our citizens with a more direct and effective voice in their state government."

The legislation includes a constitutional amendment (S.2724) to reform the process by requiring a special election to replace a comptroller or attorney general who resigns or is removed from office, and a companion bill (S.2727) that would set the time frame for a special election to be held 45 to 60 days after being proclaimed by the governor.

The state constitution requires a vacancy in the office of the state comptroller or the attorney general be filled by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature if the legislature is in session when the vacancy occurs.