On Monday, the Assembly’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus will vote for a new Chair. Assemblyman Walter Mosley is running against Assemblyman Nick Perry for what is essentially an open seat. The former Chair, Assemblyman Karim Camara, left the Assembly to head up Governor Cuomo’s new office of faith based initiatives, and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry has been filling in as Acting Chair ever since. While Mosley ( an up-and-comer ) is believed to have the edge, Perry has some of the more senior members pulling for him.

There are however, some Latino members who feel as though the next Chair should be Hispanic, since both Aubry and Camara are African American. One insider called it “regrettable” that there is no Latino candidate. Then you have Thursday’s contentious vote on the East Ramapo School District and that just made the whole situation a little more strained.

Mosley was one of the original sponsors of the legislation, but withdrew his name from the bill after a lobbying campaign by those favor it. The bill ( which passed the Assembly Thursday after an intense debate ) establishes an independent monitor in the troubled East Ramapo school district. I’m greatly oversimplifying here, but there are roughly 9000 Black and Latino students in the East Ramapo District. Because the largely Orthodox community votes in big numbers they continue to dominate the local school board, even though many of them send their children to private schools and Yeshivas. The complaint has been that resources are being diverted out of the local public schools, and that has hurt Black and Latino students, particularly the latter, since many of the students come from immigrant families.

According to a source, Mosley was “hiding” outside the Assembly chamber when the controversial bill establishing a monitor was being debated. When the vote finally came, Mosley opted not to vote at all. He is listed as “EOR,” which basically means he was excused for other reasons, but was not absent. Now, some within the caucus are grumbling that is not exactly a shining example of leadership for a guy who is looking to head the roughly 40-member caucus. Especially if it is a vote that disproportionately affects Latino students. Add in the fact that some Latino members feel they haven’t been getting the representation in the caucus they deserve and you can see how this has the potential to cause a rift along racial lines.  ( It’s like many issues in New York. Often when you scratch the surface race is not located very far beneath ).

Defenders of Mosley say the caucus took no official position on the East Ramapo bill, and members were free to vote their conscience. Mosley had a 6:30 pm class to teach back in the city Thursday, so he needed to hit the road early. But the latest twist puts a harsh spotlight on an election that hasn’t gotten much notice.