ALBANY — Voters on Tuesday resoundingly defeated a ballot question which, if approved, would have scheduled a convention in 2019.
Unions, environmental groups, Planned Parenthood and officials from both major political parties had urged opposition. They warned that deep-pocketed special interests could use a convention to undermine existing constitutional rights and noted that the constitution can already be amended through voter referendum.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said working men and women "understood what was at stake."
"Our constitution has some of the strongest worker protections in the country, including the right to collectively bargain, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation," Cilento said. "... All of those rights will continue to be protected for the working men and women of this great state."
Supporters argued a convention would provide a chance to address chronic corruption and porous campaign finance rules while strengthening protections for education, health care and the environment.
The question of a constitutional convention is automatically put on the ballot every 20 years. The last convention was held in 1967.
If the question had passed, voters would have later picked delegates for the convention. Any recommended changes to the state's governing document would have had to be ratified by a statewide vote.
NEW YORK CITY
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio cruised to a second term in his heavily Democratic city, beating Republican state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and several third-party candidates. He touted his success in providing universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds and cited investments in affordable housing and efforts to reduce crime and make the city affordable for all residents. De Blasio, 56, was first elected four years ago and emerged as a national leader in progressive politics. But his administration often found itself bogged down in feuds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, and investigations into campaign donations and pay-to-play politics. De Blasio's toughest challenger Tuesday was Malliotakis, of Staten Island, who called the mayor ineffective. He also faced third-party candidates including independent Bo Dietl, a former detective. The mayor has vowed that in his second term he will further expand pre-kindergarten to 3-year-olds and increase investments in affordable housing. He also has promised to continue to speak out for the city's immigrant and minority communities and be a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. He has frequently criticized the Republican president. "Tonight, New York City sent a message to the White House as well," he told supporters at an election night party. "You can't take on New York values and win, Mr. President. If you turn against the values of your hometown, your hometown will fight back. And so we have some fights ahead. We will fight, and we will win." De Blasio is the first Democrat to win re-election as New York City mayor since Ed Koch 32 years ago. Malliotakis said she and her supporters had "made our voices heard" and can "change the course of this city."
STRIPPING PENSIONS FOR CORRUPTION
Voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment allowing judges to strip the pensions of corrupt officials, no matter when they were elected. A 2011 law allowed judges to revoke or reduce pensions of crooked lawmakers, but it didn't apply to sitting lawmakers at the time. A constitutional amendment was needed to cover all lawmakers, regardless of when they were elected. This year's ballot question, if approved, will close that loophole. More than 30 lawmakers have left office facing allegations of corruption or misconduct since 2000.
CONSERVATION LAND BANK
A proposal intended to make it easier for communities in the Adirondacks and Catskills to use protected lands for public projects has been approved. The constitutional amendment will set aside 250 acres for communities to use for improvements that support health, public safety and community improvement, such as bike paths or water lines. Under the old rules, local governments had to get statewide voter approval for such projects, a cumbersome process that local officials say often holds up progress.
Ben Walsh will be the next mayor of Syracuse. Walsh ran on the Independence and Reform party lines and beat Democrat Juanita Perez Williams, Republican Laura Lavine and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins to succeed Democratic two-term Mayor Stephanie Miner, who's term-limited. Walsh is a business adviser at a local law firm and formerly worked on neighborhood and business development at Syracuse City Hall. Democratic Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was elected to a fourth term. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, also Democrats, were re-elected. Further downstate, voters in the Hudson River town of Monroe voted to break off the fast-growing Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel into a new, independent town named Palm Tree. Proponents hope creation of the new town will reduce long-standing tensions between the ultra-Orthodox village and surrounding residents. Meanwhile, Democrats won the county executive race in suburban Westchester and appeared to have won in Nassau, but in upstate Rensselaer County the results remained unresolved Wednesday as the final votes were being counted. In Westchester, George Latimer defeated two-term incumbent Rob Astorino, who conceded shortly before midnight Tuesday. Latimer, a state senator, won 57 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for Astorino. On Long Island, former newspaper reporter Laura Curran won 51 percent of the vote, topping Jack Martins' 48 percent with all Nassau County precincts reporting.