At the regular meeting of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday June, 20, 2016, Democrat Majority Leader Catherine Borgia blocked a vote on the Legislation which would set the date for a special election to fill the Legislative District 14 seat of retired Legislator Bernice Spreckman.
Spreckman retired effective June 7th. When a Legislator vacates their position during a term, the County Charter requires the BOL to select a date for a special election to take place within 90 days. The Legislation which was to be voted on set the date for August 2nd. The BOL will have to convene a special meeting in the coming days to take up the pending legislation again.
Legislator Borgia wanted the special election to be held on September 13th, Primary Day, which would be well beyond the ninety day period allowed by law. BOL Chairman Mike Kaplowitz and the majority of Legislators want to set the special election date within the 90 day time period which would give the Board of Elections sufficient time to prepare and to give both political parties time to identify and announce candidates.
Minority Leader John G. Testa (R) Peekskill is Co-Chair along with Borgia of the BOL’s Rules Committee. “I’m shocked that Legislator Borgia would act in such a puerile manner simply because she couldn’t get the votes she needed to set the special election for the date she wanted. We spent a lot of time listening to Legislator Borgia’s arguments in the Rules Committee. After much discussion it was clear that the will of the Legislature was to follow the law and set the election within the 90 day period as required.” Testa added, “Legislator Borgia has played fast and loose with election law in the past and it came back to bite her, including getting her candidate kicked off the ballot in the last election cycle. I would have hoped hope that she was capable of learning from that mistake. This ‘take my ball and go home’ action that she engaged in during the meeting proves that she would prefer to put politics over the needs of the people of District 14 to be represented at the BOL.”
Minority Whip Legislator Gordon Burrows reacted with disgust to Borgia’s vote blocking. “I am shocked, frankly, that Legislator Borgia would act unilaterally to prevent a vote because she knew she was on the losing end of an argument. No Legislator is more important than the BOL and certainly no more important than the needs of the residents of District 14. The bipartisan coalition and leadership team on the BOL agreed that a special election on August 2nd struck the right balance with respect to the needs of the District’s residents against the time it would take for both parties to field their candidates.” Burrows said. “I’ve heard names from both parties bandied about for this seat yet no one has announced or begun campaigning so this is a completely fair contest. I would encourage Legislator Borgia to help her party by supporting a candidate and discussing the issues that we are facing in Westchester County. I believe voters have had enough of the political gamesmanship and pettiness that we saw tonight.”