The plaintiffs suing to force a special congressional election told a federal judge that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking away the voice of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn on serious national issues. “We’re talking about the disenfranchisement of nearly 750,000 people who will never have a voice in the XL pipeline,” said Staten Island lawyer Ronald Castorina Jr. in a hearing in Brooklyn federal court Friday morning, referring to the national debate over the building of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. “The governor is a governor, not a king,” Castorina added. Castorina, also a city Board of Elections Republican commissioner, represents six Staten Islanders and two Brooklyn residents who argue that Cuomo is violating their constitutional rights by not setting a special election for former Rep. Michael Grimm’s vacant seat in the 11th Congressional District. Grimm resigned effective Jan. 5. U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein will decide the case.
Weinstein made no decision on Friday, asking a lawyer for the attorney general’s office to provide him a letter clarifying which political seats in the district are up for grabs during the general election in November.
Castorina contended that the Constitution mandates Cuomo call for a special election as soon as a seat becomes vacant. The election must take place within 70 to 80 days of when he announces it.
The Constitution reads, “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”