Harrisburg – July 2, 2012 – Senate Democratic Leader, Sen. Jay Costa sent a letter today to Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley asking that he not call a special election in the 37th Senate District to replace Sen. John Pippy (R-Allegheny) who resigned over the weekend.
Costa (D-Allegheny) said that a special election would be costly and unwise.
“Holding an election a month or so before a regular election at a significant cost to the taxpayer is not ‘in the public interest,’ ” Costa wrote.
In the letter, Costa said that the estimated costs of a special election range between $200,000 to $400,000. Costa also noted that the Senate only had eight scheduled session days before the General Election.
Text of the Letter:
July 2, 2012
Dear Gov. Cawley:
On Saturday, June 30, 2012 Sen. John Pippy submitted his resignation as state Senator representing the 37th senatorial district. As you know, Sen. Pippy announced earlier that he was not seeking re-election for another term after years of honorable service. The voters of the 37th Senate District will elect a senator for a full, four-year term at the General Election on November 6, 2012.
I am respectfully requesting that a special election not be called due to the prohibitive cost to the taxpayers and the fact that the voters will select their new senator at the November 6th General Election. Under current law – Section 628 of the Election Code– you are not compelled to call a special election. In fact, the language of the code specifically says that “if the vacancy shall occur less than (7) months prior to the expiration of the term, a special election shall be held only if in the opinion of the presiding officer the election is in the public interest.”
Holding an election a month or so before a regular election at a significant cost to the taxpayer is not “in the public interest.” Given the pending General Election, taxpayer money would be wasted for no legitimate reason. The cost of a special election – estimates ranging between $200,000 and $400,000 borne by taxpayers – is too steep given Pennsylvania’s tight fiscal situation. A regularly scheduled election at no additional cost will occur within a few weeks.
The Senate has scheduled only eight session days before the General Election. Thus, the taxpayers would have to pay $25,000 to $50,000 per session day, for a Senator whose term would expire in a few months. I remind you that the taxpayers already were forced to incur these excessive costs when the special election in the 40th Senate District was scheduled in August, 2012, rather than on November 6, 2012, when the General Election is scheduled.
The scheduling of a special election in the district immediately prior to the General Election would be quite distracting to the Allegheny and Washington County Election Departments, which are currently involved in the preparations for the General Election. Needless to say, these preparations have been compounded by the new Voting ID Legislation. As you can appreciate, with so much taxpayer money at stake, and so few remaining session days in the Senate, it would be inappropriate to pursue a partisan objective, when the voters already are scheduled to select their new 37th District State Senator on November 6, 2012.
Thank you for your consideration.