Gov Mum On Special Election
By Gary G. Toms
As The Wave went to press, representatives from Governor Pataki’s office indicated that no decision had been reached on whether or not a special election would be held to replace the late Assemblywoman Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, who succumbed to cancer in January.
If Pataki does call for a special election, the Democratic candidate, who would be the top choice in this heavily Democratic district, would be chosen by a vote of Juanita Watkins, the former City Council representative for the district, and three other area district leaders.
If the Governor is not in favor of a special election, the September primary would make the field much larger, in terms of candidates, because of the fact that it is a reapportionment year, which means that the candidates do not have to live within the district.
The vacancy has left many people within the Democratic Party jockeying for position, and political experts agree that the pending election could create a "feeding frenzy" among the candidates.
"We’re hoping that we can come up with some type of agreement. We don’t want another bloodbath. We don’t want to put ourselves in that kind of position," said Watkins.
Some of those hoping to fill the post are Michele Titus, a Democratic district leader; Fred Lewis, who works for city Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and former advisor to mayoral candidate Mark Green; and Brian Block, who works for State Senator Malcolm Smith.
Reverend Henrietta Fullard and David Hooks, Jr., two candidates for the City Council seat in District 31 last year, and Reverend Evan Gray have also been mentioned as possible candidates.
"There’s a good pool and there’s going to be some tough choices made," said Congressman Gregory Meeks, who held the seat at one time, and is expected to have some impact with regard to who the party will support if a special election is called.