ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CN) – Residents of former Congressman Eric Massa’s district demand that Gov. David Paterson call a special election to fill the vacant seat. Massa resigned from the U.S. House on March 9 after allegations that he had sexually harassed a staff member. Massa acknowledged that he had tickled the man, but denied that it was sexual.
Paterson initially indicated he would hold a special election for the 29th Congressional District, but has since stated that he has no intention of doing so, according to the complaint.
The governor is the only named defendant.
“In refusing to call a special election to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Massa from the House, Governor Paterson is violating the plain and unambiguous mandate of Article 1, Section 2, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution,” which states: “When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such vacancies,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say these provisions are mandatory “regardless of the balance of time remaining on the terms of office.”
A spokesperson for the governor said, “Gov. Paterson had concerns about the financial impact of an election on the counties given the financial crisis.”
But the plaintiffs say that “unless a special election is called at once, over 654,360 citizens in the District, including electors, who are the plaintiffs herein, will be without representation in the House until Jan. 5, 2011, a period of more than eight months.”
They want a judge to force Paterson to hold an election within 30 to 40 days, and add that their district is already feeling the effects of the empty seat.
“The City of Corning recently was told that it would not receive more than 2 million dollars in federal funds for sewer and water main repairs, which appears to be a direct result of not having representation in Congress,” the complaint states.
The 29th District consists of the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates, and portions of Monroe and Ontario.
Plaintiffs in the suit are Larry S. Fox, Cynthia Alford and Carl Edwards. They are represented by John Cirando of Syracuse.