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Special Election to Fill the Seat of Former Assembly Speaker

BISAHA 1: Alice Cancel is leaving a campaign event at the Henry Street Settlement House. She sees Willie Rivera, a retired community activist in the Lower East Side.

((SOUND: Rivera (:08)

Cancel: How are you?

Rivera: I am doing so good. I am so rooting for you.

Cancel: Good for you!

BISAHA 2: Alice Cancel is the Democratic nominee for State Assembly district 65. The district covers most of the lower east side of Manhattan, all of Chinatown and the Financial District. Cancel was a district leader for the Democrats and worked closely with Silver over the last two decades.


Did I have to work with Sheldon Silver like I had to work with other officials? Absolutely. Just to make sure our district got taken care of. (:08)

Her challengers – Yo-Line Nio and Richard Chang – say Cancel is a Silver loyalist – one that the Democratic party hand-picked. She rejects the hand picked idea but recently called Silver a hero for the district. Something Willie Rivera agrees with.


You can’t say nothin bad about this man. This man was good all around. (:05)

BISAHA 3: Again, that’s Sheldon Silver he’s talking about. The man at the center of one of the biggest corruption scandals in New York history.


I know people that have done worse. And they’re still there. (:05)

BISAHA 4: Rivera isn’t alone in this opinion. There are plenty in the lower East Side who have soured on Silver, but Rivera says Silver’s influence in the district still runs deep.


Well we were blessed to have him. He wasn’t the band aid. He was the surgeon. (:04)

BISAHA 5:  Ed Litvak is the  editor of the Lo-Down, a hyper local news site that cover the Lower East Side.


People feel  that he was there for him. When you had a pothole on your block a letter from the speaker of the New York State Assembly to the Department of Transportation tended to get things done. (:09)

BISAHA 6: Silver was convicted on all charges last November in a multi-million dollar corruption case –  everything from money laundering to extortion. In the nearly 40 years he was in office, Silver wielded his power – and the more than a million dollar budget in constituent services – liberally in his district. He got low income housing for the elderly and fought for funding to keep businesses in lower manhattan after 9/11. Again, Ed Litvak.


People are now going to have to come to terms with not being sort of in this special position that the Low East Side has been in for so many years. (:09)

BISAHA 7: In this heavily Democratic district, Alice Cancel’s main contender is Yuh-Line Niou. On Tuesday morning she’s handing out fliers right outside the F train stop on East Broadway.



It’s pretty freezing right now. We were just giving out lit over there but I wanted to get my crew some coffee.(:06)

BISAHA 8: Niou knows how things work in Albany. She’s been the chief of staff for assemblyman Ron Kim and says she knows how to deal with the deep cuts the district is facing.


One of the things we have to do is make sure we can staunch that bleed right away and also to be able to provide constituent services on day one. (:08)

BISAHA 11: Niou’s already gone up against Alice Cancel and lost the Democratic nomination. That was last month and a last minute switch to the  Working Families Party party allowed her to stay in the race. Dick Dadey is the executive the director of Citizens Union, a good government group in New York City. He says special elections like this are structured so the party bosses have the most influence.


What we have here is more or less a coorientation and less an election. (:09)

BISAHA 13: What Niou does have are loads of endorsements, including one from Comptroller (prono) Scott Stringer. But according to Ed Litvak from the Lo-Down, the politicians shaping this race the most is still…Sheldon Silver.


For Alice Cancel her perceived connection to Sheldon Silver is going to help her. But I do think there are reform minded people who just the idea that she could be connected to him is going to turn them away from her. (:15)

BISAHA 14: Silver’s legacy in Albany will forever be tainted by corruption, but in this corner of lower Manhattan, at least for this one election on April 19, Silver is still a political force impossible to ignore.

Stephan Bisaha, Columbia Radio News


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