Assemblyman Dan Stec has co-sponsored a bill that would let voters remove politicians from office through recall elections, which exist in other states and countries but not in New York.
The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, calls for a constitutional amendment, which requires approval from two successive legislatures and a public referendum. Tedisco's bill would let voters remove an elected official from office, for any reason, with a direct vote before the politician's term ends.
Stec, R-Queensbury, said in a press release that recall elections would give voters more power over elected leaders and help clean up corruption in Albany.
Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury
(Photo courtesy of Dan Stec)
"Our public deserves better than to have their trust broken time and again by corrupt politicians putting themselves first," Stec said. "By permitting recall elections, we can allow New Yorkers to say, 'Enough is enough,' and get rid of the politicians who use their position to bankroll their own special interests instead of using it to be the voice of their constituents."
The bill would require 20 percent of voters from the official's most recent election to sign a petition to force a recall. It's unclear when that election would happen; the bill says the recall vote would occur within 80 days of the petition's certification, but it also says it would happen during the next general election in November.
The state would also be responsible for the cost of a recall election, the bill says.
Other North Country lawmakers, like Sen. Betty Little and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, say they support the bill in theory but would need to see more details before deciding whether to officially back it. A companion bill hasn't been introduced in the Senate, Little said.
Duprey noted when the Assembly is in session, she sits across the room from William Boyland Jr., who has been indicted on fraud charges for falsely claiming expenses.
"Many voters have reached out across the state and said, 'How do we get rid of these guys?'" Duprey said. "Either way, you probably have to wait until after they're convicted. ... I support the concept. I think we have to analyze the cost and the logistics of putting it in place."
"It'd be fine, certainly, if somebody has committed a crime or really done something horrific, that they should not be in office," Little said. "I think you'd have to have wording in it so that you couldn't have just one group gang up because you didn't vote one way."
Little noted that elections are expensive for both the public and the candidate.
When an elected official is convicted of a felony, they're required to resign, Little said.
"But in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty," she said. "Could you do a recall vote based upon an accusation that someone had against them?"
Stec has also sponsored a bill that would "eliminate pensions for elected officials convicted of a felony while in office," according to the release. Duprey said she fully supports that measure.