Assembly leader now calling for special elections to fill vacancies

Jan 17, 2014

Some top state lawmakers seem to be changing their minds over whether to call special elections for a growing number of vacancies in the legislature.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver now says he wants voters to pick new legislators to fill 11 vacancies. And Gov. Cuomo now says he is looking at the issue.

Silver had said special elections to fill the nine vacancies in the Assembly and two in the Senate might be pointless, since new members could not be seated before the budget is done, and that he did not expect the legislature to do much work after late March.

That would have meant the 1.8 million people in those districts would not have a new representative in office for another year.

But the speaker has changed his position. In a statement Friday, Silver said he believes it is important for special elections to be held. And he says members of the Assembly and Senate “work hard throughout the year serving their constituents both in their communities and in Albany during session.”

Cuomo previously said he wasn’t planning to hold any special elections, citing the cost. On a Friday interview on public radio's Capitol Pressroom, the governor said it is not something to do lightly because elections are expensive to hold.

More of Capitol Pressroom's interview with Gov. Andrew Cuomo can be heard Friday evening at 8 p.m. on WRVO.