Seminerio seat special election riles
Posted on July 29,
2009 by Howard
Koplowitz in Albany
Gov. David Paterson intends to call a special election to fill
the seat vacated by former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio,
according to an e-mail written by the lawyer for the city Board of
If Paterson follows through, a wrench would be thrown into the
plans of the six contenders running for the seat, who have raised
funds and collected petition signatures that would be voided.
“I have just been informed by the governor’s office that Governor
Paterson intends to issue a proclamation … calling a special
election to fill the vacancy,” wrote Steven H. Richman, counsel for
the city Board, in an e-mail sent July 22 to the board’s
commissioners, executive management and legal department.
Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo, who has about $150,000 in his
campaign account and said he submitted 8,000 signatures in his bid
to replace Seminerio, was one of six candidates who anticipated
running in a primary election in September and the general election
But under a special election, which according to Richman’s e-mail
is expected to be called for Primary Day, the petitioning process
would be circumvented with the borough’s party leaders choosing
candidates to run.
“I feel that [a special election] abdicates the rights of the
voters,” Baldeo said. “This is a violation of the right to
“Here you’re going against the will of 15,000 people,” he said,
referring to the collective number of signatures obtained by the
Running along with Baldeo are Community District Education
Council 24 President and Community Board 9 member Nick Comaianni,
Forest Park Senior Citizens Center Executive Director Donna
Caltabiano, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) aide Lourdes
Ventura, CB 5 member Michael Miller and Farouk Samaroo, a former
aide to ex-Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin.
Seminerio, who resigned from the Assembly a day before pleading
guilty to honest services mail fraud charges, remains as a
Democratic district leader and would have influence over who the
Democratic Party chooses as its candidate if a special election were
A political observer familiar with the race said some party
leaders were uncomfortable that they would “have to lobby a
convicted felon” to back their preferred candidate.
Queens Democratic sources said a special election would undermine
Baldeo, whom they did not perceive as the party’s choice for the
seat, according to City Hall News.
But Baldeo said he believed the party would endorse him in the
end because of his loyalty and support to the machine’s
Baldeo came within 8,000 votes of ousting then-state Sen. Serphin
Maltese in 2006 and bowed out of a possible rematch in 2008 in favor
of then-City Councilman Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who went on
to win the seat and helped Democrats capture the majority in the
Senate for the first time since 1965.
“I paved the way for [Addabbo] to get that seat,” Baldeo said. “I
have made good with the party. I’ve done my part for them.”