Fire board election date remains unchanged

A bill that would change the date of the annual election for Eastchester’s fire commissioners to the same day as the general election remains in limbo.

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The proposed change to the Eastchester fire board’s election date awaits approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. File photo

The legislation, which was introduced in January, has been passed but hasn’t been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk, according to officials with knowledge of the situation.

“It is basically in limbo,” said Commissioner Jerry Napolitano. “The governor has agreed to review it and this is all we know.”

The legislation aims to increase voter turnout for the elections. Typically, fewer than 5 percent of registered voters cast a vote in the December elections. Absentee ballots are not allowed in the election either, effectively disenfranchising the homebound.

Kevin Czerwinski, spokesperson for Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s office, said the bill hasn’t crossed Gov. Cuomo’s desk yet.

“It hasn’t been sent to the governor,” he said. “[The state legislature] had it since June. I believe they have 18 months to send it.”

It’s unclear what would happen if the governor were to sign the bill before this year’s general election on Nov. 5. However, Commissioner Richard Steigelman doesn’t think that will be a problem.

“I spoke to Paulin and she doesn’t think it’s going to happen this year,” he said.

Supporters of the bill also believe holding the fire elections at the same time as the general election could save the taxpayers money.

Steigleman said the fire board election is supposed to be nonpartisan and worries holding the election on the same day as the general election could politicize it.

“If you change it, people are going to think it’s political, which it’s not,” he said.

The Eastchester Fire District, which has the same borders as the Town of Eastchester, is governed by a board comprised of five members who oversee the five firehouses within the district. Elections are held annually.

-Reporting by Gerard Nolan