CAPITOL — Ending weeks of speculation, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has scheduled 11 special elections to fill state legislative vacancies, including the one in the 102nd Assembly District, for Tuesday, April 24.
The seat was vacated in early October by Peter D. Lopez, R-Schoharie, after he was named administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 2 in New York City, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The 102nd Assembly District seat represents much of the Catskills, including all of Schoharie and Greene counties, the towns of Rensselaerville, Westerlo and Coeymans in Albany County, and parts of Columbia, Delaware, Otsego and Ulster counties.
Christopher Tague, the Schoharie town supervisor and chairman of the Schoharie County Republican Committee, has been endorsed for the seat by the Republican Party committees in the district, though he has yet to make a formal announcement that he is running. Still, he confirmed his plans.
"We haven't done an official announcement, but yes," Tague said Monday about running.
The only announced Democratic candidate is Aidan O'Connor Jr. of Durham, Greene County, a paramedic and a member of the Greene County Legislature. He is regional business development manager for LifeNet, the helicopter medical service.
Lopez, a Republican from Schoharie, had served in the Assembly since 2007 and was unopposed in his last two elections. The 130,000 residents of the Assembly District have been without representation since then his departure.
Tague, 48, general manager of Cobleskill Stone Products, was elected town of Schoharie supervisor in 2015, and re-elected in 2017. He said he would retire from his construction industry job and become a full-time assemblyman if elected. If he is winner of a special election, he would take office as soon after the election as the results are certified, probably within weeks after the election.
Tague said he also has the Independence Party endorsement, and is pursuing the Conservative endorsement.
"I think we had an effective assemblyman in Pete Lopez, even the other side of the aisle couldn't deny that," said Tague, who managed some of Lopez's campaigns. "He said it was constituency-based, and I couldn't agree more."
Tague said local governments have had to innovate to keep local taxes down while dealing with federal and state mandates, and he believes an Assembly member should be helping local governments. "It's giving them relief and support and helping them with their everyday problems," he said.
A Schoharie County native, Tague said he lost his home in the 2011 Tropical Storm Irene flooding, and knows about rebuilding a community.
"The biggest thing in the rural 102nd District is economic development and infrastructure, and they go together," Tague said. "We have to find a way to keep our young people here."
O'Connor, who was elected to the county Legislature in 2015 and is chairman of its health services committee, announced his candidacy on Monday. "I'm running for Assembly beause I love upstate New York and I have the energy, enthusiasm and experience needed to help make our communities the best they can be!," O'Connor said in a prepared statement. He could not immediately be reached for further comment late Monday.
The 102th Assembly District leans Republican. Its enrollment includes 30,762 Republicans, 24,693 Democrats and 23,159 voters without party designation, according to the state Board of Elections.
The election will be one of 11 special elections being held around the state on April 24, including nine Assembly seats and two state Senate seats.
Among the other vacancies to be filled is the 107th Assembly District, which was vacated on Jan. 1 after Steven F. McLaughlin was elected Rensselaer County executive. The district includes large parts of Rensselaer, Washington and Columbia counties.
Members of the Assembly earn $79,500 annually, though most qualify for additional per diem payments or stipends.