Friday, December 3, 2010

WFP Leaders Express Opposition to Special Election for Mayoral Succession

With Bob Duffy just a few weeks away from being sworn into office as New York's next Lt. Governor, there has been a lot of discussion about how his replacement as mayor will be selected. Most grassroots activists are supporting having an interim mayor appointed so that we can then have a "normal" election process in 2011, including a primary and a general election. While Chairman Joe Morelle wants to have a special election which would likely limit participation, 7 of the Democratic Party's 11 Legislative Distrist leaders have expressed support for empowering the people of Rochester by having a primary and general election.

The leaders of the Working Families Party have now also added their voice to the discussion by opposing "calls for a “special election" for mayor of Rochester." At the heart of their letter is the fact that a "special election" would essentially disenfranchise voters.
"So let's be clear: A special election will disenfranchise voters, especially voters of color, by taking the power to pick the Democratic candidate out of their hands and putting it in the hands of a few party leaders.

It's not just Working Families Party members who favor a different approach. Many of the Democratic Party officials who would actually get to designate the democratic candidate if a special election were held also oppose it. Like us, they believe, that instead of picking our mayor for the next three years, we should appoint an "interim mayor" until November 2011, when we can hold a regular election and let Democratic candidates vie for their party's nomination in a free and fair primary process. That's how we elected mayors Johnson and Duffy. And that's how we should elect our next mayor."
As I've been holding conversations with grassroots activists throughout the city, I'm hearing more and more people express support for holding a general election in 2011. This is simply the best way to ensure that the people of Rochester truly have an opportunity to vet the candidates and select the best possible mayor. I'm therefore very pleased to see that leaders of the Democratic and Working Families Party are standing up for the most democratic (note the small d) process of selecting Duffy's replace.

If you want to read the WFP's full letter, it can be found below the fold.




December 1, 2010

Dear Rochester City Council members:

We are writing on behalf of the Working Families Party to oppose calls for a “special election" for mayor of Rochester. Simply put, our city has a choice between appointing a mayor for the next 10 months, or appointing one for the next three years. If we go forward with a special election, we will be giving a small handful of Democratic Party officials the power to pick our mayor until November 2013.

In normal elections, candidates are chosen through primaries, where voters from each party decide who will represent them in the general election. Because Rochester is so heavily Democratic, Democratic Primary elections are often where the real debates take place. Once a candidate wins the Democratic primary, he or she is almost certain to win the general election.

But special elections don't have primaries, which means they bypass this important democratic process. Instead, each party's leaders simply pick one candidate to run in the general election. Again, Rochester's Democratic leanings mean that, if we hold a special election, Democratic Party leaders would essentially appoint the next mayor for the next three years without any input from the voters.

So let's be clear: A special election will disenfranchise voters, especially voters of color, by taking the power to pick the Democratic candidate out of their hands and putting it in the hands of a few party leaders.

It's not just Working Families Party members who favor a different approach. Many of the Democratic Party officials who would actually get to designate the democratic candidate if a special election were held also oppose it. Like us, they believe, that instead of picking our mayor for the next three years, we should appoint an "interim mayor" until November 2011, when we can hold a regular election and let Democratic candidates vie for their party's nomination in a free and fair primary process. That's how we elected mayors Johnson and Duffy. And that's how we should elect our next mayor.

This is a much more democratic approach. We urge the City Council to uphold democracy by appointing an interim mayor and allowing a real election to be held in November 2011, instead of supporting a sham "special election" process that will disenfranchise voters for the next three years.

As elected officials and leaders in this community, we believe that you have an obligation to show people that government belongs to them, and that by participating in the democratic process, they can elect leaders who will make government work for them. This requires a normal election process in which, after a short interim period, voters get a full say on who Rochester's future mayor will be.

Sincerely, on behalf of the Working Families Party,


Paul Schuh
UAW Region 9 CAP Director
Co-chair, Working Families Party

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York
Working Families Executive Committee


Jesse Lenney
Metro Justice President
Working Families Executive Committee

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