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What to Watch in New York's Special Elections

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia


​New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 24, in select districts across the state to vote in the special elections.

There are eleven races total across the state: 9 in the Assembly and 2 in the Senate. These are to fill seats that opened up after lawmakers left office to take other jobs— all registered voters are eligible to vote in a special election if their district has a vacancy. At the moment, the Assembly actually has 10 seats open— Assemblyman Frank Skartados of New York’s 104th district passed away on April 15, 2018. The cutoff for a special election falls on April 1, so that election is scheduled for the fall.

There are not too many big upsets expected in the Assembly— even if all 9 seats went Republican, the Democrats would still hold a strong majority. The party split as of Election Day 2016 was 107-43 for the Democrats.

In the Senate, things get a little more complicated. One of the seats— formerly held by Democrat Ruben Diaz Senior in the Bronx's 32nd district— has not even had a Republican on the ballot in the past 3 elections. Just north of there, Democrat George Latimer's former seat is up for grabs in Westchester's 37th district. It is a swing seat that Republican Julie Killian— a Rye city councilwoman and deputy mayor—  hopes to turn red for the first time in more than ten years.

“I’m a Republican, I was raised by two Democrats,” she said. “But party doesn't matter for me— we have to work together to get things done.”

Killian is running on a platform of affordability, security and economic opportunity. To a part of the state hit especially hard by the opioid crisis, she brings experience as a councilwoman who launched an initiative in Rye to combat substance abuse.

Democrat State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer is running against Killian. Mayer is pushing similar issues, like affordability and corruption, but also has a record fighting for women and and acting on gun control.

Assuming Diaz’s seat stays blue (Democrats took 97.2% of the vote in 2016), the Senate would be split perfectly down party lines— 31-31. With the recent dissolve of the Independent Democratic Caucus, a group of Democrats that allied with Republicans, that means the race for Latimer’s seat determines who controls the New York State Senate until the general elections this fall.

Assembly special elections are being held in the following districts:

District 5— Long Island

District 10— Long Island

District 17— Long Island

District 39— Queens

District 74— Manhattan

District 80— the Bronx

District 102— Schoharie County, portions of Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Otsego and Ulster counties

District 107— parts of Rensselaer, Columbia and Washington counties

District 142— South Buffalo, part of Lackawanna, West Seneca and Orchard Park