Is Hypocrisy at Play? Monroe County Legislators openly criticized President Sabrina LaMar for aligning with Republicans, now considering a similar move.
Despite securing a 16 to 13 majority, members of the Democratic Caucus are threatening to join forces with Republicans in order to elect a President of the Legislature if their demands are not met.
According to the charter, a minimum of 15 votes is required to elect a President, a threshold that no Democrat has been able to reach within the caucus. In their pursuit of the coveted position, two members of the Democratic Caucus are resorting to seeking Republican support.
LaMar's history-making moment as Monroe County Legislature's first Black woman to become president happened by joining forces with the GOP. This decision outraged many Democrats. “None of my Democratic colleagues voted for me. But the Republicans saw something in me and voted for me. So sometimes it's necessary to break away or to be elevated in order to do what’s right for your constituents." LaMar stated at the time.
Now, other Democrats are at odds for considering the same decision.
"As Democrats, it is crucial that we work together to find common ground within our Caucus," stated Legislator Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons. "Our community cannot afford to endure another four years of neglecting their needs. Maintaining the status quo is simply unacceptable."
Why should Democrats be concerned? Collaborating with Republicans could compromise key Democratic priorities, such as providing housing assistance and conducting a feasibility study on public utilities. In return, Republicans may gain control over certain committees, staff, and legislation. This could effectively force the Democratic President to adhere to Republican demands in order to retain power.
The infamous Independent Democratic Conference in the New York State Senate previously allowed Republicans to maintain power, resulting in a stagnation of progress in Albany for years. A similar scenario could unfold in Monroe County.
"I suspect we will hear arguments that Democrats would not technically be caucusing with Republicans under any hybrid agreement. However, that is a distinction without a difference," argued Legislator Rachel Barnhart. "Democrats who choose to grant power to the party of Trump would be compromising their principles and betraying our party. While there are instances where reaching across the aisle is commendable, establishing the power structure for the next four years is not one of them."
Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Stephen DeVay has made it clear that he will not support any agreement with the GOP. Additionally, Legislator Rose Bonnick defeated President Sabrina Lamar due to Lamar's alignment with Republicans in her pursuit of power (see attached mailers sent to voters). However, as of now, only Legislators Vazquez-Simmons, Barnhart, and Susan Hughes-Smith have publicly stated their intention to vote against any agreement that relies on Republican votes for the President.
"Let us reject any deals that will harm our constituents," urged Legislator Vazquez-Simmons. "I call upon all my colleagues to take a stand right now and declare that they will not vote for a President who depends on Republican support. We have less than a week to resolve this matter."
The selection of the President is set to take place during the Organizational Meeting on January 2, as mandated by the Monroe County Charter.