Who will replace Lavelle
The Staten Island Democratic Association, the Island's progressive Democratic club, hosted a forum for candidates seeking to fill the late John Lavelle's vacant North Shore 61st State Assembly District seat Thursday night at the American Grill, which was packed with onlookers and 11 office seekers.
There will be no primary. A relatively small cabal of County Committee members residing in the 61st AD will decide who gets the nomination. I moved to the 61st AD from the 63rd 2 days after Election Day. I was supposed to have been appointed to the County Committee back in June, but somehow I was never officially added, so I may be not be part of the cabal making the nominating decision.
Most Staten Island Democrats live in the borough's North Shore and those aspiring to run for office representing that part of the Island typically have to wait in line for a chance to do so. This is why 11 people at the forum sought the nomination, while there may be no Democratic candidate to contest Council special election winner Vincent Ignizio's newly vacant South Shore Assembly seat, if his opponent Manny Innamorato doesn't seek to represent the heavily Republican South Shore in Albany.
Lavelle's son Danny was originally thought to have the nomination's inside track for sentimental reasons. Councilman Mike McMahon was rumored to have sought the seat as well and would have been the front runner over Danny in my estimation, but he declined to interview for the nomination. McMahon running didn't make sense, since most think he will seek the borough presidency in 09.
Many Staten Island former candidates and long time operatives have entered the race and it seems doubtful that Danny will get the nod based on his presentation. Danny was not that well prepared, perhaps because the only other formerly announced (although insiders knew about several other qualified candidates who would be throwing their hat into the ring) viable opponent was former borough president candidate John Luisi.
With the exception of Rev John Johnson who is not really a Democrat but an Independence party member and based on the reaction of the crowd who was more familiar with him than I, a bit of a nut job, all the other candidates would make decent assembly people.
Openly Gay attorney Matt Titone, who gallantly lost in November to Andrew Lanza for State Senate in a district gerrymandered to elect Republicans is probably the new front runner.
Kelvin Alexander is another former State Senate candidate seeking to replace Lavelle. Kelvin lost the primary in 04 to eventual winner Diane Savino. Kelvin, a former cop and teacher, was also the founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. He would be my choice if I'm allowed to vote in the county committee nomination proceedings.
Longtime Staten Island politico Bob Olivari gave a very good presentation and should be formidable.
Teacher and former Lavelle staffer Mark Zink is a longtime activist who also deserves a chance to run for office.
Ubiquitous union and educational activist Rajiv Gowdat joined the field at the last minute. He is a frequent Daily Politic commenter and works as an engineer for his day job.
Although they seemed like they'd be capable legislators if elected, I'm not too familiar with the other three candidates, banker Daniel McOlvin and lawyers, John Castelli and Cindy Lowney. McOlvin and Castelli appeared on NY1 last week in stories not related to the Assembly race.