When Michele Titus took her seat on the civil court bench at the start of 2020, she vacated her office as the assemblywoman for District 31, potentially leaving it open for a special election.
But unlike the race for the Queens Borough President’s office, where Mayor Bill de Blasio promptly called a special election after District Attorney Melinda Katz left vacated her office as borough executive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to do so in the case of the southeastern Queens district.
The reason for the Cuomo’s delay is likely an attempt to consolidate the special election on the same day as one of the two major elections coming up over the next six months, with the presidential primary on April 28 or the state Assembly primary scheduled for June 23.
For the state Legislature, a special election would be held between 70-80 days after the governor’s proclamation. It’s customary for the governor to schedule special elections across the state on the same day.
“The governor has discretion to call a special election to fill a state legislative vacancy, and usually tries to schedule them all on the same day. This, of course, saves taxpayer dollars, and minimizes voter confusion,” said election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder.
Notably, Gov. Cuomo has not yet called the special election to replace Rep. Chris Collins (R-27th District) after he resigned from Congress and pleaded guilty to insider trading. That election could guide his decisions around other special elections for vacancies across the state.
In the meantime, the field of candidates for District 31 who have filed campaign committees has widened to seven.
Those candidates include Richard David, a district leader and Indo-Caribbean history professor at CUNY; Khaleel Anderson, a Rockaway community board member and activist; Derrick DeFlorimonte, member of Community Board 13 and a combat medic with the Army National Guard; Lisa George, a staffer from Senator James Sanders’ Rockaway office; Chiedu “Shea” Uzoigwe, a former staffer for Senator Sanders; Tavia Blakley, a former staffer for Assemblywoman Titus; and Varinder Singh, a real estate consultant and construction manager with HS Development Group.