Thursday, July 29, 2010

Former State Sen. Serf Maltese Launches Bid To Be New Board of Elections Executive Director by Edward-Isaac Dovere - City Hall News

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Former State Sen. Serf Maltese wants back into politics.
But instead of running himself, Maltese wants to run all city elections, in a bid to become the new executive director of the city Board of Elections.

“I am writing you to indicate that I would like to be considered for the position of Executive Director of the Board of Elections in the City of New York,” Maltese wrote in an email that was sent around to commissioners Wednesday evening. “My biography accompanies this request and I believe that my background and experience would qualify me for this position of great responsibility and importance.”

That 2,000-word biography details Maltese’s history in local politics, hitting all the highlights and many of the awards he picked up during his 20 years representing Queens in the State Senate. Maltese lost by double digits to Joe Addabbo in 2008 in one of the two seats that swung the majority to the Democrats.

And in an ironic twist, Addabbo is this year being challenged by former Council Member Anthony Como, who had been agitating for the executive director job before pulling out at the last minute to pursue the State Senate race. Como, though a former commissioner, had been unable to rally the six votes necessary to get a majority of the 10 commissioners.

In his email to the commissioners, Maltese indicated that he had a running start in getting to six.

“I can assure you that I have the confidence and backing of my Queens County Chairman, the Honorable Phil Ragusa, our Queens County Republican Commissioner the Honorable Judith Stupp and my former Senate colleague Senator Marty Golden,” Maltese wrote.

The top position at the city Board of Elections has been vacant since February, when Marcus Cederqvist resigned, and the process of picking his replacement has been stuck in a largely partisan stalemate: four Democratic commissioners and one Republican, from Staten Island are looking to promote deputy executive director George Gonzalez, but have been blocked from reaching a majority by the Staten Island Democratic commissioner, Michael Ryan, who remains undecided, and the four remaining Republicans.

The Staten Island Republican commissioner, J.P. Sipp, is said to be allying with the four Democrats thanks to the efforts of John Haggerty, the operative indicted by the Manhattan district attorney in the Independence Party probe, but also one of the leaders of the anti-Phil Ragusa faction of the Queens Republicans.

After Como’s decision to run against Addabbo, J.C. Polanco—the Bronx Republican commissioner and the secretary of the Board—had put himself forward as an alternative. But as the Board has been dealing with a budget crisis and the complicated run-up to the roll-out of new optical scan voting machines for the fall elections, the search for someone to fill the top job has remained frozen.

Reached late Wednesday, Polanco said he was focused on his duties as a commissioner fielding objections to petitions and as the director of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s New York City and Westchester regional office.

“I haven’t spoken to Senator Maltese as of yet regarding his interest,” Polanco wrote. “I’m in the middle of working with my colleagues on voting on specific objections to petitions for the next several days. And along with a busy special session with Assembly Republican Leader Kolb, I’m going to have my hands full. I hope to have an opportunity to discuss our views as to the direction the NYC Board of Elections in this very important year.”

Maltese could not be immediately reached for comment.