Article in the August 28, 2010 issue of the Westchester Herald, by Peggy Godfrey
New Rochelle City Councilman James Stowe’s untimely death left a vacancy to be filled by a City Council with three Democrats and three Republicans. The last time a divided City Council faced a possible impasse the decision was to bring back the former Mayor Stanley Church to fill an unexpected vacancy.
On WVOX 1460 Radio on August 24 MIchael Ferrara, the Republican candidate who ran against Stowe in the 2007 election in District 3, cited the changes voted upon in the City Charter which mandated districts in New Rochelle. All council districts in his view should have a representative. He felt the City Council should fill the vacancy.
The Chairman of the New Rochelle Democratic City Committee, Arnold Klugman, stated, in New York State to fill the position a special election will be held in November. The political parties will make their nominations for the position. "The vacancy from today to December 31, 2010, can be filled by a majority vote of the City Council. There will be a special election for the remaining unexpired term, January l, 2011 to December 31, 2011." According to Democratic City Committee rules, only the District 3 Democratic District Leaders who carried petitions can vote for the candidate that will be placed on the November ballot. It is too late for petitions, so a primary is not possible.
Other City Committees of political parties will also nominate a candidate to run. There must also be a provision made to allow independent candidates to run, possibly by a directive from the Westchester County Board of Elections.
Former New York State Assemblyman Ron Tocci felt people in District 3 "deserve a replacement as soon as possible. Council should be deliberating to fill the vacancy. Democrats and Republicans should put up a candidate immediately to fill the vacancy caused by Stowe’s death. Reasonable people should be able to compromise, to come up with a candidate that is acceptable, who can serve the City. Since the New Rochelle City Charter allows for an appointment, that should be the first concern. If that can be done, the person will serve at least until the end of the year, or possibly until the end of next year."
Michael Brown who has run for public office in New Rochelle, highlighted one of the dilemmas. He stated, "for the first time in almost 20 years the Democrats don’t hold the balance of power on City Council and they will have to come to a compromise by the end of the year."
Making this selection of a person to fill City Councilman Jim Stowe’s shoes difficult is the knowledge that even a former opponent, Beuenia Brown, can say that Stowe’s death was unfortunate for the City. Elaine Waltz, President of the South End Civic League, felt "Stowe will be missed by all." Eloquently, Mitchell Tarnopal said "I think Jim Stowe was a tremendous guy. He was a hands-on type and if a constituent complained, Jim would want to examine the problem first-hand until he could do something about it. He was a dedicated elected official who will be hard to replace."