ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The political drama continues to swirl in a Rochester race for the New York State assembly.
As News 8 reported last week, state assemblyman Harry Bronson failed to get the Democratic party endorsement for his re-election to the 138th district seat. Instead, it went to challenger Alex Yudelson. The district covers parts of the city and the towns of Chili and Henrietta.
The controversy started swirling last week when neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote among Monroe County Democrats. After that, Bronson’s camp said the ballot box was stuffed and took issue with abstention votes being counted in the tally. The committee took it to a second vote which happened Saturday. Yudelson won and now some are suggesting he benefited from a political swamp.
The Henrietta town supervisor, Steve Schultz, is one of those alleging corruption among his fellow Democrats in Henrietta. Schultz is the top elected official in Henrietta, yet he says last year he was removed from the Democratic committee.
“The system is built for this, that the party leaders run the show, it’s, in my opinion, built for corruption,” Schultz said.
The Henrietta Democratic committee leader is Michael Yudelson, the father of Democratic designated candidate Alex Yudelson. Schultz said it looks like Michael Yudelson added people to the committee to pad the vote and get his son the endorsement over Harry Bronson.
“One vote difference would’ve meant Harry Bronson would’ve achieved the middle and 50% to get the designation. So had I been allowed to vote, he would’ve won. Had one fewer of those people been added then he would’ve won,” said Schultz.
News 8 reached out to Michael Yudelson about these allegations. He said this in an email:
“To avoid even the appearance of a potential conflict of interest, I recused myself from the Henrietta Democratic committee’s designating meeting back in January, and let a neutral third party run the meeting. The meeting this past Saturday was conducted under the bylaws of the Monroe County Democratic Committee.”
Michael Yudelson also told News 8 that at that designating meeting, the Board of Elections ran the registration table and counted the ballots. We reached out to a Board of Elections commissioner, who said while some BOE employees did run tables, they did this on a volunteer basis, not as BOE employees.
Schultz said he usually stays away from party politics, but this concerns him.
“I’m focused on this because this affects Henrietta and because to me this is exactly, when people talk about the swamp and stuff like that, this is the swamp. This is the kind of nonsense that has to stop and I’m just sickened by it. It’s not why I got into politics and I’m disgusted that my own party would do it,” he said.
For now, it’s a divided local party. News 8 also reached out to the de-facto leader of the local democrats, Monroe County executive Adam Bello. He said he trusts the party chair to figure this out going forward.
“I think that the rules should be understood by everybody before the process plays out and I think that’s the issue right now that is happening between the two campaigns and folks that the rules weren’t generally understood leading into it,” Bello said.
Alex Yudelson has never held elected office. He currently serves as chief of staff to Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. He stepped into the race for assembly last fall after Bronson publicly opposed Warren in her efforts to have the state take over city schools.
The Democratic primary is this June and it’s expected to be a close vote.