By Lisa Dumas
Updated: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Sam Roberts’ Assembly seat could be filled in the general election, should he resign prior to July 2nd. And, in that case, there would be a primary held for the seat.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced May 20 that he has nominated Assemblyman Sam Roberts, D-Syracuse, to serve as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
The office has a budget of $5.4 billion, and employs more than 2,000 workers.
“I am honored and humbled by the nomination,” Roberts stated. “I am looking forward to being apart of the governor’s administration, and bringing my skills to the table.”
Roberts, a three-term Assembly member for the 128th district, will increase his salary from $79,500 per year, to $136,000 per year, in the position.
Prior to becoming an Assembly member, Roberts served at the Office of General Services as superintendent of the Senator Hughes State Office building, and, before that, had been an Onondaga County Legislator, while working as a journeyman tool and die maker at General Motors.
“I’ve been known to be a strong consensus builder, and I just want to do whatever I can to help serve the people of our great state,” Roberts said.
According to Cuomo’s office, Roberts’ appointment would require Senate confirmation, and, once confirmed, Roberts would then transition out of the Assembly in order to assume the new role.
However, Roberts said he is not yet sure when the confirmation will take place.
“I don’t know when the confirmation will be, but my hope is for it to before the session is over,” he stated.
Following his confirmation, the governor would then need to decide whether to hold a special election, within 80 days, in order to fill Roberts’ Assembly seat, according to Onondaga County Board of Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny.
Should that happen, Czarny said the major parties would have an opportunity to nominate their candidates, based on the internal bylaws for filling party vacancies at each organization, but there would be no primary held for the race.
However, Czarny said, should Roberts resign from the seat prior to July 2, it would be possible for the seat to be filled during the general election, and, in that case, there would be a primary held.
As of April 1, Democrats outnumbered Republicans, 32,074 to 17,828, respectively, in the district.
In addition, three local Democrats, Syracuse Common Councilors Jean Kessner and Pamela Hunter, as well as former Onondaga County legislator David Stott, have currently expressed an interest in Roberts’ seat.
Roberts said he would endorse Kessner in the election.
“She’s done a great job as Councilor,” he stated. “She’s an independent thinker, and I know that she would continue that service into the Assembly.”
The 128th district represents parts of Syracuse, and the towns of DeWitt, Onondaga and Salina. Roberts, 59, has served as Assemblyman for the district since 2010.