Want to Be Special Counsel to Village of Port Chester, NY, As It Redesigns Its Election System?

Via email a note about a new RFP for a special counsel:

Special counsel will assist the Village Board of Trustees consider governance/voting method options for the election of trustees at upcoming Village Elections.
Port Chester had entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice and an Intervenor which authorized an electoral system of cumulative voting for 2010, 2013 and 2016. The consent decree expired in June 2016 with the next Village Election in March 2019 at which time the terms of all six trustees and the mayor expire.  The Village is presented the unique opportunity to select a governance.voting method option that would  be appropriate for the Village and comply with New York State Elections Law and the Voting Rights Act.
Details below the fold.







NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that sealed qualifications will be received by the Village of Port Chester, New York, in the Office of the Village Clerk, 222 Grace Church Street, Port Chester, New York 10573, for firms or individuals to provide qualifications for the development of alternative governance options for consideration in future village trustee elections to the Village of Port Chester. Proposals must be received by the Village by 10:00 a.m. local time on February 23, 2018, after which time and date no proposals will be accepted.


The Request for Proposals (RFP) may be obtained at the Office of the Village Clerk, Port Chester, New York between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except legal holidays) and can be accessed from the Village of Port Chester’s website at www.portchesterny.com.


All proposals must be submitted in a sealed envelope and clearly marked:


Request for Proposals

Special Elections Counsel

RFP #2018-03


No proposer may withdraw his/her proposal within forty-five (45) days after the closing date/time for receipt of the proposal.


If it becomes necessary to revise any part of this RFP, or if additional data or information is necessary to clarify any of its provisions, a written addendum will be issued.


The Village reserves the right to reject any or all proposals, waive any irregularities in the proposals received, select any proposal as the basis for negotiations and to make an award to the most qualified proposal that is in the best interest of the Village of Port Chester.


/s/Christopher D. Steers

Christopher D. Steers

Village Manager

Village of Port Chester

DATED: January 26, 2018










RFP # 2018-03


The Village of Port Chester desires to retain an attorney to act as Special Election Counsel to the Board of Trustees (Mayor and six Trustees).

In 2006, the federal government brought suit against the Village of Port Chester claiming a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act alleging that the at-large, staggered system of electing Trustees provided for in the Village Charter operated to deny the Hispanic population of the Village an opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Following an adverse decision on liability and litigation on the remedy, in 2009 the parties entered into a consent decree providing for the Village’s preferred remedy, cumulative voting, to be used for the 2010, 2013 and 2016 Village Elections for Trustee. Cumulative voting is an election system that allows voters to cast as many votes as there are seats. However, unlike traditional winner-take-all systems, voters are not limited to giving only one vote to a candidate, they can put multiple votes on one or more of the candidates. The consent decree provided for a comprehensive voter education program led by a coordinator employed by the Village. It also provided for other election features at variance from State Election Law such as early voting.

As of June 22, 2016, the consent decree expired leaving the Village with the opportunity to consider alternative governance options for future Village Trustee elections. The next Village Election is in March 2019 when all six trustee terms and the mayor’s term expire.

As part of its due diligence, the Board of Trustees authorized a public, competitive and nationwide Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposals procurement process to retain a social scientist voting rights expert to advise them of the various governance/voting method options. In October 2017, the Board selected Dr. Lisa Handley, who had previously been retained by the federal government in the voting rights litigation. She is in the process of completing her work, and has provided her initial deliverables with a presentation made to the Board on January 2, 2018. She is expected to return on February 5, 2018 for a further presentation following her third deliverable.

As with all other non-privileged materials, Dr. Handley’s retainer agreement and reports are all publicly available and posted to the Village’s web-site.

At the February 5, 2018 meeting, it is expected that the Board of Trustees will consider a resolution memorializing its desire to engage the public and foster a transparent and inclusive process of selecting a governance voting method to elect Trustees.

On the recommendation of Dr. Handley, the Board of Trustees desires special counsel to guide the Village.


The responsibilities of the position are as follows:

Provides legal advice to the Board of Trustees.

Researches laws and renders opinions to the Board of Trustees on matters related to their deliberations, actions and policies;

Drafts appropriate legislation.

Keeps abreast of changes in election law, rules and regulations that are applicable to the Village;

As required attends meetings of the Board of Trustees and its committees as may be directed by the Board;


Graduation from an accredited school of law, admission to the Bar of the State of New York and five years of experience in the practice of  New York State Election Law and the Federal Voting Rights Act.


The Proposal shall provide the following:

  • The Proposer’s contact information.
  • The name, status within firm, experience and qualifications of the attorney.  A resume should be included.
  • Resources available to the attorney and his/her ability to perform the scope of work in a timely, efficient and professional manner.
  • Availability to accommodate meetings of the Board of Trustees and consultations with members of the Board.
  • Disclosure of any information with regard to the circumstances and status of any disciplinary action taken or pending against the firm or any partner during the past three years with state regulatory bodies or professional organizations.
  • An affirmative statement that it has performed a conflicts search and that the firm and partners have no conflicts of interest such that would preclude the firm’s retention.
  • A minimum of three (3) professional references, including name, title and phone number of the person who should be contacted for verification.
  • An hourly rate table for all members of the firm likely to provide services to the Village.


Please submit all proposals by mail or by hand no later than 10:00 A.M., February 23, 2018 to:

Janusz R. Richards, Village Clerk

Village of Port Chester

222 Grace Church Street, Suite 120

Port Chester, New York 10573


Proposals submitted after this date will not be considered.  Responses may be withdrawn prior to the opening date and time, upon written request of the respective firm(s).  If it becomes necessary to revise any part of this RFP, or if additional data or information is necessary to clarify any of its provisions, a written addendum will be provided.

One original and seven copies of the proposal are requested.

All proposals shall meet the criteria outlined in this RFP in order to be considered.

The Village reserves the right to reject any or all submittals in response to this RFP and to award the proposal in the best interests of the Village.

All materials submitted in response to this RFP become the sole property of the Village.  The Village will not reimburse the proposer for any expenses incurred in connection with the preparation of this RFP.  All proposals must be irrevocable and signed by an authorized officer of the firm.



The following factors will be used in evaluating Proposers:

  1. Use of personnel and approach to scope of work.
  2. Experience, qualifications and professional reputation.
  3. Experience and familiarity with the Village.
  4. Knowledge of the legislative process and intergovernmental relations.
  5. Resources that will be made available to perform the Scope of Work.
  6. Availability to attend meetings of the Board of Trustees and for consultations with members of the Board.
  7. Level of interpersonal skills and proficiency in working with small groups.
  8. Other factors demonstrated that are beneficial to the Village or which the Village may deem relevant.

During the evaluation process, the Village reserves the right where it may serve the Village’s best interest, to request additional information or clarification from a proposer, or to allow corrections of non-material errors or omissions or waive non-material requirements.

Interviews of select Proposers may be conducted from which the successful candidate will be chosen.

All proposers will be notified in writing once the successful proposer has been selected.

The Village expressly reserves the right to reject any or all proposals submitted.


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