Will it really cost a million?


(re: “Thanks a million, Andy,” Sept. 3)

The headline of a recent editorial is based upon questionable estimates about the cost of a special election.

It is difficult to understand a purported cost anywhere close to a million dollars to run a special election in one council district, knowing roughly the staffing levels required for a limited number of election districts to be covered. Such a high number seems sensationalistic. Yes, elections cost money, but that’s democracy at work — even in a time of Trump.

Beyond a high cost estimate, the editorial echoes council candidate Jessica Haller in suggesting the Bronx Democrats did something wrong by nominating Councilman Andrew Cohen, as if he wasn’t actively seeking the nomination.

The claim is made that he should not have left before the end of his term because Cohen “has a contract with us until the end of the year.”


Elected officials run for other offices all the time. In the past century, U.S. Sen. Harry Truman went on to the vice presidency before the end of his term.

Is she suggesting that Sen. Kamala Harris shouldn’t be running for vice president because she would have to leave her position early if elected? Or that Sen. Barack Obama should not have run for president?

This year, Councilman Ritchie Torres ran for congress in the Bronx. If he wins, he will resign from the council, triggering a special election for his council seat. He shouldn’t have run? How about when Public Advocate Tish James was nominated for state attorney general two year ago, triggering a special election for her public advocate position — which Councilman Jumaane Williams won, triggering a special election for his council seat?

Those are but a few examples of elected officials running for other positions. Unless Ms. Haller believes that Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Ritchie Torres, Tish James and Jumaane Williams all did something wrong by running for another office, there can only be one reason for this line of attack: An effort to turn a non-issue into an issue for her own purposes.

As to the suggestion by the editorial Councilman Cohen should resign early so that the special election would be part of the November election, is there any doubt that if he did that, The Riverdale Press and candidates would attack that as being manipulative and timed for the advantage of one particular candidate?

In my view, it would be better for all candidates and newspaper editors to stick to facts, and talk about issues that voters really care about. There are plenty of them.

Michael Heller

The author is president of the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, although he notes this letter addresses his personal views.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although not specifically mentioned in the Sept. 3 editorial, last January, Politico cited the city’s election board affixing a $1 million price tag for a city council special election. That includes nine days of early voting.

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Michael Heller,