"Let the people decide who should be their Assemblyman"

Lawmakers lobby against Governer Paterson's special election to replace disgraced ex-Assemblyman

Wednesday, July 29th 2009, 4:00 AM

Assemblyman Peter Rivera (D-Bronx) circulated a letter to downstate Assembly members demanding that Seminerio's replacement in the 38th Assembly District be selected in the November general election.

"We have a few days to get a message to the governor," said Rivera's legislative director, Guillermo Martinez, who noted Paterson had yet to technically call for a special election.

Following Seminerio's resignation and subsequent guilty plea to influence-peddling charges last month, five candidates filed petitions to get on the general election ballot in the district, which covers an ethnically diverse swath of southern Queens.

However, Daily News political columnist Elizabeth Benjamin reported last week that Paterson had previously notified the city Board of Elections that he intends to call for a special election.

Paterson's office did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Benjamin's report cited a letter that Steve Richman, general counsel for the state Board of Elections, sent to city elections commissioners. Richman urged them to be ready to hold a special election on Sept. 15 - the same day primaries will be held for city elections.

Under state law, Paterson must issue a proclamation between Aug. 11 and 16 for a special election to be held on Primary Day.

The Queens Democratic Party wants a partisan special election because it would allow the party to choose its favored candidate. The other option - a primary - would likely lead to a messy, four-way battle.

A special election would rely heavily on the influence of four Democratic district leaders in Seminerio's district - including the disgraced Seminerio himself.

Rivera thinks Paterson should not interfere in the election.

"Let the Democratic process play itself out," Martinez said. "Let the candidates have debates and let the people decide."

Martinez said the letter will likely be signed by at least six Assembly members and could be sent to Paterson as early as today.

Democratic candidate Albert Baldeo of Ozone Park blasted Paterson's plan, which could lead to a legal battle.

"The fundamental right to vote is not to be taken from the people," Baldeo said, calling for a primary.




  AlbertBaldeo.Com 2005