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Felder on Board of Elections fight: 'Part of me says this thing just needs to be over'

Jul 27, 2020

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Now that Rochester City Councilmember Jackie Ortiz has been chosen by Democratic Party leaders to be their next Board of Elections commissioner, one of the biggest critics of the process said it may be time to make peace. 

Monroe County Minority Leader Vince Felder said Monday that what happens next is up to county legislators, who will vote on the position next month. Felder said these appointments are typically made without much of a fight. 

But he said this case isn’t typical. 

“I’ve known Jackie Ortiz for a long time,” said Felder. “I like her, I got nothing against her personally. So, you know, there’s a lot of considerations to weigh here.”

The considerations are kind of complicated. In short, when former Democratic Elections Commissioner Colleen Anderson left to join County Executive Adam Bello's administration in February, some party leaders, including Felder, wanted to appoint her deputy, LaShana Boose, to replace her. Other party leaders pushed for a convention to decide who gets the job, which led to a lawsuit this spring. State Supreme Court Justice John Ark’s ruling led to a convention that Ortiz won on Saturday. 

Felder said Ark's ruling was illegal, violating party bylaws, but he now said this acrimony is bad for the party -- so he’s torn on whether he should fight the appointment legally.

“Part of me says this thing just needs to be over because it's like Groundhog Day. It’s stagnated our party and the Democratic caucus and Legislature,” said Felder. “At some point you, you know, it's like it’s time to just move on and be over and done with, so I’m between two opinions right now. I’m unsure.” 

The County Legislature is scheduled to vote on Ortiz on Aug. 11. If the Legislature confirms Ortiz, there would be a vacancy on City Council. Rochester’s City Charter requires Council members to replace any vacant seat within a month. If that doesn't happen, Council President Loretta Scott will decide who joins.