(13-WHAM, Sean Carroll) County will soon be home to two lawmakers named “Joseph D. Morelle.” On Wednesday Monroe County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Morelle (also a State Assemblyman) will recommend that his son, Joe Morelle Jr., fill a vacant seat in the county legislature.
The vacancy comes in the wake of Democrat Ted O’Brien’s election to the New York State Senate in November. O’Brien reportedly approached Morelle Jr., 24, about filling his seat immediately after the November election. His name was then presented to the Irondequoit Democratic Committee for a vote and he received unanimous support.
Morelle Sr. is also a member of the Irondequoit Democratic Committee and was not present for that vote. He said the standard procedure to fill vacancies of this nature is for him, as the county’s party chairman, to put forward whatever name the town or city committee agrees to and in this case it happened to be his son.
Morelle Jr. is currently a leasing agent for Wilmorite’s Park Point at RIT facility. He graduated SUNY Geneseo in 2011 with a degree in Business Administration and he’s been a member of the Irondequoit Democratic Committee for six years. He currently serves as that committee’s secretary. Morelle Jr. said he was scheduled to graduate in 2010 but accepted a full-time job with Wilmorite in 2009 and completed his education as a part-time student.
When asked how he would respond to some who may question this appointment or accuse Morelle of practicing political patronage the Democratic Party Chairman responded:
“Well first is that he's got to run for election so it's really up to him to go out and convince voters that he's the right person for the job and frankly I don't want to be in a position where I have a double-standard that I tell my children it's okay for me to be involved in public service, and I've preached to you your whole life how important it is to give back to your community, but when there is an opportunity that you're excited about that somehow I was going to be the one to squelch it. That is not something I'm about to do. He'll have to chart his own course.”
When asked if Morelle Jr.’s only qualification for this job was his last name the elder Morelle responded:
“Well he went to Geneseo (and) did very well, he has a business degree, he's been working in the private sector for several years, he's a homeowner, pays his property taxes, pays income taxes, has been very involved in a number of organizations, raised money for a number of causes so he's the kind of person that we look for. Clearly it's a little more complicated because he shares my name but the kinds of things that he's been dedicated to, that his mother and I have tried to instill in all our children, are the things we look for in candidates so I'm very proud of him. I'm proud that he's chosen to do this, I've advised him not to make it his day job and to continue to work in the private sector.”
Morelle Sr. first ran for public office in 1981 and narrowly lost election to the Monroe County Legislature at the age of 24. He then won election to that same seat in 1983 and was sworn in at the age of 26. He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1990 and currently remains atop a short list to be named the Democratic Majority Leader in 2013. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a longtime friend of Morelle’s, is expected to make that decision in the upcoming legislative session.
Morelle Jr. tells 13WHAM News he intends to run for a full term in the county legislature this fall as his appointment will only last one year. The lifelong Irondequoit native said he expects to work even harder because of who his father is and that the people of his district will voice their opinion in November if he’s not up to the job. The district’s voter registration leans heavily in favor of Democrats.
“My dad has been in public service a long time and I would be proud to do half the job he’s done while serving this community,” Morelle Jr. said.
When reached about this report Monroe County Republican Party Chairman Bill Reilich said he had no comment.