To the editor:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has an important decision to make soon — one that can alter the balance of power in Albany next year.
Two state senators — Ruben Diaz Sr. and George Latimer — were elected in November to new positions (respectively, city council and Westchester County executive), leaving vacancies in the state senate that will need to be filled in special elections to be called by Gov. Cuomo.
By state law, a special election must be held between 70 and 90 days after the governor calls for one.
Gov. Cuomo has full discretion to call special elections, or not to call them at all, leaving these seats vacant for as long as he wants.
If he waits a long time to replace these two state senators, it likely will keep the Independent Democratic Conference in power (the IDC are registered Democrats headed by our state senator, Jeff Klein, who caucus with the Republicans). Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the senate, with the assistance of the IDC and one conservative Democrat, Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, who also caucuses with the GOP.
If mainline Democrats — headed by Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers — are down two members for a large part of the legislative session next year, it will be impossible to build a majority with Felder, who has said he is open to rejoining the Democrats if the IDC breaks its power-sharing agreement with the Republicans. And another year of Republican control will be guaranteed.
If Gov. Cuomo hesitates to call special elections as soon as he is able, he is not serious about helping Democrats capture the senate majority. Contact the governor today and tell him to call these special elections as soon as he can.
The author writes on behalf of Riverdale Huddle, whose members include Jacqueline Gold, Judith Minkoff-Grey, Linda Hirlehey, Janice Weaver and Dale Wolff.