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Picking a New State Senator in the 60th District

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – At the end of the year State Senator Byron Brown will be leaving his Albany job to become the next mayor of Buffalo. But until a special election is held, who will represent the 60th district?

The Republican and Democratic parties are reviewing potential candidates to run in a special election to fill the vacant Senate seat. But constituents who live in the 60th district, that stretches from the city of Buffalo into the city of Niagara Falls, could be left without a representative for a couple of months.

The election must be scheduled by Governor Pataki. That might not be happen until February. Delaware District Council member Marc Coppola is one of the the Democrats who may consider a run. Coppola speculates that the Governor might not set the election date until March. So who would be representing the 60th district?

"Nobody. It will be a classic case of taxation without representation," Coppola said.

Coppola says that would leave constituents without a representative when the state budget process begins this January in Albany.

"They should put in a mechanism so that during this period, between the time the senator won the election and the end of the year, a special election should be held," Coppola said. "Having no representation in the 60th district is very unfair to the taxpayers."

In the meantime, Coppola says he is talking to individual members of the Democratic party to be considered for the special election. But has not had a conversation with party leader Len Lenihan.

"Right now, you're really not a candidate unless the party picks you," Coppola said. "There's no primary in a special election situation. The hierarchy in the parties, the respective chairmen, pick the candidates."

Other names being tossed around on the Democratic side, include former State Senator Joseph Tauriello --w ho held the same seat back in the 1970s, Buffalo Council members Richard Fontana and Brian Davis, as well as former mayoral candidate Kevin Gaughan.

Republicans are reportedly considering a top Giambra aide, Warren Galloway, and businessman Richard Snowden.