EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – A bill that would move the Eastchester Fire District election date passed the state Senate in June, but remains in limbo and has not yet been forwarded to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approval.
If approved by Cuomo, the election would be consolidated into the November general election, rather than having its own specific date. It is believed that this would generate more interest in the oft-ignored election and but may be more costly.
Sen. George Latimer said that on average, less than 5 percent of the registered voters in the district cast a vote during the most recent fire district election.
“A significant number of residents told us they wanted a change in the date,” he said. “By consolidating the election dates, Eastchester residents will be able to vote in the general election at the same time as the election for the fire district commissioners.”
Presently, the fire district elections are held on the second Tuesday in December, at a time when weather can be at its worst. During a town discussion with Latimer and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin in May, residents said that weather was a big reason for the poor voter turnout.
“We have a big budget here and we have an aggressive fire attack,” Dennis Winter, the chair of the Eastchester Fire District said. “We need the best candidates to be running and we need more than 600 people coming out to vote. What we’re doing now is wrong. We’re not getting the best candidates running for fire commissioner and it’s a disservice to the community.”
According to Paulin’s office, the bill hasn’t been sent to the governor, and it may not be addressed before the end of the year, although Cuomo has agreed to review it.
Even if the election is moved from its current December home to the November general election, some residents still believe voter turnout will be scant.
“Every election is important, but it’s not something that a lot of us really follow along with, especially since it’s on a random date,” Jen O’Flaherty said. “Maybe if it is moved, people will start to pay more attention to it.”
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