Galef Calls for a Citizen State Constitutional Convention Barring Elected Officials from Being Delegates

April 7, 2005

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, 90th AD, introduced legislation on April 7, 2005 (A.7164) to prohibit elected officials from qualifying as delegates to a State Constitutional Convention.

This legislation states that the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, any state legislator, elected municipal (county, city, town or village) official or person currently holding elected office be prohibited from serving as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.

"With recent calls for a New York State Constitutional Convention, I strongly support a change in our election law to encourage only citizens, not elected officials, to participate as delegates to the convention," stated Galef.

"Elected officials have a primary responsibility to their constituents and usually have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, while the average person does not. It is very important that the people of this state, not the career politicians, have the opportunity to be constitutional convention delegates. The democratic process in strengthened through the inclusion and participation of our residents, not the political professionals."

Elected officials have an automatic advantage over the ordinary citizen by virtue of being in public office stated Galef. "All elected officials enjoy a public recognition advantage over the average citizen making it more difficult for ordinary people to run for delegate status and win."

The New York State Constitution stipulates that a question of whether a Constitutional Convention should be held is put before the voters every 20 years on the election ballot. If the people decide that a convention should be held, then there shall be a conventional delegate election on the ballot the following year. New York State’s last convention was held in 1967. The latest call for a constitutional convention was defeated by the New York State electorate in November 1997.

"We need to hold a constitutional convention to settle many critical issues facing our state today," said Galef. "We must pass legislation ensuring that the delegate process is a transparent, fair, and democratic one so that the voters will feel confident in voting for a constitutional convention."