Councilmembers Keith Powers and Eric Ulrich want to change special elections

Councilmember Keith Powers ( Photo courtesy of Councilmember Keith Powers office.)
Councilmember Keith Powers (Photo courtesy of Councilmember Keith Powers office.)

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | If two City Council members have it their way, New York City will make it easier to fill vacancies for elected office.

Manhattan City Councilman Keith Powers is teaming up with Queens City Councilman Eric Ulrich on legislation introduced Wednesday which would streamline special elections in New York City. The bill, if enacted, would allow those elected to fill Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President and City Council vacancies to serve the remainder of the unexpired term. 

Currently, special election winners can only hold the office through the end of the calendar year. They must run again in the next November general election if they want to fill out the remainder of the term they inherited.

Ulrich called the current special election law nonsensical.

“It does not make any sense to win a special election and then have to run again months later,” said Ulrich. “It is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars and it can decrease voter turnout.”

Supporter of the bill, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, called the current system “illogical” and “confusing to voters.”

Williams replaced former Public Advocate Leticia James in a special election in February after she was elected attorney general. He will be up for re-election this November to finish out the current term, though he’s an overwhelming favorite to win.

Queens Councilmember Eric Ulrich. (Photo courtesy of Councilmember Eric Ulrich’s office).

This bill comes less than two months before New Yorkers will vote on another measure meant to streamline elections, Ranked Choice Voting, where voters would be able to rank up to five candidate by order of preference on a ballot instead of casting a single vote.

This measure is one of a handful of initiatives introduced by the city Charter Revision Commission, according to City and State.

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