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Community residents ask Cuomo for special elections

Nayaba Arinde | 3/20/2014, 11:48 a.m.
At a Sunday afternoon rally targeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo activists demanded special elections and the reopening of 10 Assembly district ...
Protestors at a rally to demanded special elections for 10 New York Assembly districts offices Tyrik Washington photo

At a Sunday afternoon rally targeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by an open letter to Speaker Sheldon Silver, activists demanded special elections and the reopening of 10 Assembly district offices in New York, as approximately 1.2 million New Yorkers are now without their constituent governmental-related services. Furthermore, “It is also a fact that this action is a violation of these constituent’s constitutional rights,” charged the group Operation POWER, with founding members including Council Member Inez Barron, activists Charles Barron, Peggy Washington and Adeline Bunch and co-chairs Tyrik I. Washington and Joy Simmons.

“You cannot have all this taxation while the people are being willfully denied representation,” Inez Barron told the Amsterdam News.

“As you are aware, Gov. Cuomo has refused to call a special election to fill the vacancies of 12 electoral seats—two in the Senate and 10 in the Assembly. Brooklyn, in particular, has hundreds of thousands of residents affected by the four Democratic Assembly district vacancies,” the grassroots group charged. “In November 2013, New York Assembly Members Inez Barron (D) of the 60th District, Rafael Espinal (D) of the 54th District and Alan Maisel (D) of the 59th District were all elected to the New York City Council. Assembly Member William Boyland Jr. (D), formally of the 55th District, was convicted and removed from office this month.

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Charles Barron speaking to protestors at a rally to demanded special elections for 10 New York Assembly districts offices

“These four districts are majority Black and Latino districts and are entitled to the protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, as of March 2014, the respective state government seats previously represented by these Assembly members remain vacant and their offices remain closed.

“Yet, it’s interesting to note that the two Senate offices remain open as a result of the approval of Republican leader Dean G. Skelos.”

“We are being disenfranchised,” Barron told the AmNews after the rally. “Out of the 12 seats, seven are in New York City, with 800,000 predominantly Black and Latino residents. We want services in our districts. And we want the speaker to open and staff the district offices to provide services for our residents, and we want Gov. Cuomo to call the special elections.”

Operation POWER added, “Each member of the state Assembly represents approximately 128,000 residents. The 54th and 60th Assembly districts are comprised of approximately a 95 percent Black, Latino and Asian voting age population. The 59th Assembly district is presently comprised of approximately a 66 percent Black, Latino and Asian voting age population. These facts support the contention that the affected districts are predominately communities of color.”

Even though the “media is refusing to talk about the issue because the mainstream want to make him look good,” Barron said the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of New York City residents in particular are being deprived of essential services, dealing with issues as far ranging as employment assistance and discrimination, to affordable housing, foreclosure, affordable health care information and immigration problems.

“Yet, they continue to pay their taxes—income taxes on their wages, sales taxes on products and services, capital gain taxes, property taxes and the various fees required to obtain a driver’s license or operate a business, to name a few,” stated Operation POWER.