Editorial: Election should coincide with school vote

03/21/2013 8:00 AM |
Governor Andrew Cuomo on Long Island

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo must decide when a special election for the recently vacated 2nd Assembly District seat will be held.

More than a week has passed since Dan Losquadro was sworn in as Brookhaven Town highway superintendent and still no date has been set for a special election to replace him in the New York State Assembly.

That responsibility falls squarely on New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who could opt to set the special election date to coincide with local elections in November.

Area Democrats have said the main reason to wait until November would be to save taxpayer dollars. But is that the only reason?

The Dems have a list of potential candidates that’s shorter than a stack of pancakes. With a decent crop of interested parties on the GOP side — including two elected Southold officials — we suspect the governor may be dragging his feet for political reasons.

A November election could put GOP favorite Chris Talbot — who’s up for re-election to the Southold Town Board this year — on the sidelines in the Assembly race, lest he risk giving up his town seat. It would also give the Democratic nominee, who would almost certainly be someone not currently in office, the standard six months to campaign for the seat and raise his or her profile.

If the election were set today and scheduled for May 21, the date of the statewide school budget votes, candidates would still have almost two months to campaign. Hosting the election on that date would assure a higher voter turnout and than on any other non-Election Day — and would minimize election costs.

If the governor’s true concern were saving money, he’d already have set an election date. After all, the former assemblyman’s staff is still getting paid, as it works to field calls from constituents who have no elected representative. The staff now reports to the office of Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver, a New York City Democrat who, we’re quite certain, has very little use for an office full of East End Republicans.

State records list the expenses for Mr. Losquadro’s office at $300,000 last year. Even if you subtract the assemblyman’s salary from the budget, it still costs more than $18,000 per month to keep the district offices staffed and open for business. If the Assembly post is not filled until November, taxpayers will have shelled out close to $150,000 to maintain an office with no elected leader.

Gov. Cuomo needs to set a special election date quickly.

He needs to set it for May 21.

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