Clyde Vanel launched his campaign against State Senator Malcolm Smith in January, and on Wednesday Vanel called for the incumbent to step down.
Smith was arrested last April on corruption charges. His trial is set to begin June 2 and Vanel said Smith, who is up for re-election, “cannot properly represent the community while on trial for political corruption.”
“The Senator is innocent until proven guilty. However, the community’s need for proper representation during this difficult period is outweighed by the Senator’s individual circumstances. Smith should step down,” Vanel said.
The State Senate will be out of session come the trial date, but Vanel said that “doesn’t mean the work for the community isn’t done.”
“The petitioning period for the campaign begins in June. The time to really engage and talk to the public is during the campaign. If you’re too busy and you cannot do that, that’s a detriment to the community,” he said.
Smith will be tried along with former Councilmember Dan Halloran and former Queens GOP leader Vincent Tabone. The three were allegedly involved in a scheme to get Smith, a Democrat, on the Republican ticket for last year’s mayoral race.
“Our community is suffering and there are many vital issues that our community needs proper representation and attention [to],” Vanel said, “namely unemployment, education, senior services and quality of life, to name a few.”
Smith and representatives for the state senator did not comment.
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