Filling Squadron’s seat: A primer to the candidates vying to succeed the former state Senator

Pols on LICH: Never again — without loads of paperwork
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It’s less of an election guide and more of a selection guide.

The four candidates vying to replace former state Sen. Daniel Squadron as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer on the November ballot won’t be facing the voters in a primary, but potential constituents should still probably know who they are.

Because Squadron’s surprise resignation, which was delivered via an Albany-damning New York Daily News op-ed, came after the filing deadline for candidate petitions, the Democratic contender for his seat — and almost certainly his successor — will be chosen by members of county committees in Brooklyn and Manhattan, the two boroughs the 26th Senate District straddles.

The campaign — or what there is of it — for the Democratic ballot line will not play out on the stump, but in the political clubs of party activists and the back rooms of county committee meetings. Good relationships with party bosses will count more than any appeal to actual voters. And because of arcane regulations, the county committees’ votes are weighted heavily in favor of Manhattan members, meaning the seat that has been held by a Brooklynite for nearly four decades will likely go to a pol from the distant isle.

The decision is expected later this month, after the Sept. 12 primary gives voters a voice in most other races. The active contenders, in alphabetical order, are:

Eileen Naples
Eileen Naples

Alan Gerson

• A resident of Manhattan and Columbia Law School graduate.

• Served as a councilman from Manhattan from 2002 to 2009, when he was unseated in an ill-fated reelection campaign during which he contracted swine flu, his campaign manager got busted for child pornography, and his campaign treasurer, special counsel, and campaign secretary — who was also his mother — died.

Brian Kavanagh

• A Manhattan resident and 11-year Albany veteran, he currently serves as the assemblyman for New York’s 74th District.

• Declared his candidacy hours after Squadron announced his resignation, which led some to suggest he got a heads up from the former senator and thus his support as a successor.

• A progressive member of the Democrat-controlled Assembly, his legislative efforts have focused on strengthening tenant rights, pushing green energy projects, and promoting equality for the LGBT community.

Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh
Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Eileen Naples

• A Cobble Hill resident, she worked in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office as a prosecutor representing domestic abuse victims until 2015, when she retired to raise her son.

• Advocates for ethics and criminal-justice reform, including closing a state loophole that allows special-interest groups to donate millions to politicians’ campaigns and the institution of a cashless-bail system.

• As a Brooklynite and political novice, she faces an uphill battle to court Manhattan county committee members’ votes.

Paul Newell

• A Manhattan resident who has served as a district leader there since 2009.

• Made his name as the underdog that challenged Sheldon Silver for his Assembly seat in 2008, and ran a second unsuccessful campaign for the Assembly last year.

Former Councilman Alan Gerson
The Villager file photo

•An active advocate for tenants’ rights.

Diego Segalini

• A Brooklyn native who resides in Manhattan, the political newcomer is currently the executive vice president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which he joined in 2007.

• Serves on the community board that represents his neighborhood on the distant isle.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Paul Newell
The Villager file photo