MINORITY LEADER JAMES N. TEDISCO
January 6, 2009
"Accident" Waiting To Happen
introduces legislation to prevent future "accidental" elected officials
Remember the "good old days" when elections mattered and voters decided who served as their representatives in public office?
Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) does.
That's why in response to a spate of political appointments and successions culminating in Governor Paterson - who ascended to the Governor's office after Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace - choosing Senator Hillary Clinton's successor, Tedisco has introduced legislation to require that U.S. Senate vacancies be filled via Special Election, so voters can decide New York's next Senator.
"Over the past two years, we have witnessed a virtual 'musical chairs' of elected officials, ranging from the Governor, to Comptroller, to U.S. Senator, to possibly the Attorney General if he were appointed to fill the Senate vacancy. This pattern of 'accidental' public officials needs to stop," Tedisco said.
"From Caroline Kennedy, to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, to State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, New Yorkers have listened to months of speculation as to who will serve as the next junior Senator from New York. But what we haven't heard, is a rational explanation as to why this selection must be the decision of just one person," Tedisco said.
"Having the power to do something doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do. The most powerful voices in this democracy aren't elected officials, but the nearly 18 million New Yorkers who form the basis of our democracy. A Special Election is the best way to ensure voters have their say and their voices heard," Tedisco stated.
Tedisco noted that several states presently require Special Elections to fill U.S. Senate vacancies, and, in the wake of the "pay-to-play" appointment scandal surrounding embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Illinois), both Minnesota and Connecticut have sought to amend their replacement process so a Special Election - not a governor's appointment - is employed to fill a vacated Senate seat.
Tedisco's legislation would amend the Section 42 of the State's Public Officer's Law, which relates to the replacement of New York's U.S. Senators. His legislative initiative would require a Special Election to determine a successor in the event of any vacancy.
"Governor Paterson has sole discretion to decide who replaces Senator Hillary Clinton, as she is widely expected to be confirmed as President-Elect Obama's Secretary of State. While the Governor is a man of integrity, having one individual making such an important determination is antithetical to democracy. This decision should reside with the people, not a Governor who himself was unelected," Tedisco concluded.